Man dies after being pulled from Gorge waterway

A man in his 50s died Thursday after being pulled from the freezing, rushing water underneath Tillicum bridge.

Police received a call at 3:30 p.m. about a man in distress in the water. The caller said he was on a small public dock holding onto the man.

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“There was a group of people, one person grasped onto him,” said Saanich Police Sgt. Steve Eassie.

Victoria police and B.C. Ambulance paramedics responded to the call, helped pull the man from the water and began life-saving efforts.

“He was not conscious when he was pulled from the water. We’re not sure what happened,” Eassie said.

The site is being treated as a possible crime scene until investigators determine what happened.

“We’re not sure if it was an accident. We’re hoping somebody witnessed the incident and comes forward.”

The small dock is a popular place for people to congregate. There was a beer can on it as police continued their investigation Wednesday afternoon. An unlocked bicycle sat on a nearby trail.

Mike Penny lives in the condos overlooking the Gorge and the small dock. He said he saw a familiar group of people on the dock about 3 p.m. when he went for a walk. Just after he returned home, a neighbour told him there was a commotion outside.

“He had already been pulled from the water. They worked on him for a long time. It didn’t look good,” said Penny. He said the man had a stocky build, greying hair and a goatee.

Penny, who has lived in the area for more than 10 years, said he often sees people walk from the nearby beer and wine shop to the dock.

In May 2013, a 53-year-old woman and her 31-year-old daughter were attacked by a man on the dock who allegedly held the younger woman’s head under the water and hit her with a beer can. He then kicked the mother into the water. Both women survived the attack. The man, who fled, was never found.

Kinsmen Gorge Park

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

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