Woman who loved to swim died in dangerous riptide

Steve Sharratt
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69-year-old was swimming in dangerous surf along P.E.I.’s north shore

LAKESIDE - An American tourist who loved to swim met a dangerous riptide here Friday morning and was drowned before rescue officials could save her.

The name of the 69-year-old woman, believed to be from Washington, D.C., won’t be released until her family have all been notified. She was a guest at the nearby Rodd Crowbush Resort and had been reportedly swimming regularly since arriving in P.E.I.

The dangerous north shore surf condition warnings issued by Parks Canada Friday kept Kelly Murnaghan out of the water as she watched the rescue unfold.

“I was out walking the beach and the winds were very strong. I saw the ambulance drive down and wait as this helicopter arrived and rescue people jumped into the water,’’ said the native of South Africa. “It was a beautiful day, but not for going in the water. She has must have been so helpless out there.”

RCMP estimate the visitor went in for a swim around 11 a.m. and, according to beach witnesses, the strong waves carried her well off-shore. A Cormorant search and rescue helicopter from 413 Squadron, based at 14 Wing Greenwood, located the woman more than 200 metres (600 feet) from the shore and pulled her from the churning waters just before 1 p.m. The victim was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and medical staff tried to revive her.

“The rescue people tried to lower a basket down to put her in,’’ said Murnaghan, now living in Portsmouth, N.H and staying in a nearby family cottage. “But it was impossible with the wind….it just kept blowing around. So the rescue guy in the water had to wrap his arms around her and they lifted them both out.”

A family from Nova Scotia was on the beach, but not in the water, and thought they saw something out in the waves.

“My husband saw something, but it was hard to tell,’’ said the woman with two young children. “The waves were so high and the wind was so strong you could hardly have a conversation…..you could barely even see her.”

Large waves were pounding the shoreline here and three children playing in the water were instructed by guardians to only go knee deep into the water.

Kings District RCMP, Island EMS and the Morell Fire Department all attended the scene.

ssharratt@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianSteve

Organizations: Rodd Crowbush Golf and Beach Resort, RCMP

Geographic location: Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Sarah
    August 11, 2014 - 09:24

    There are no signs at lakeside beach warning swimmers of dangerous rip tides. Locals may know about the rip tides but most tourists do not!

  • Wrong Place Wrong Time
    August 09, 2014 - 12:26

    This is really unfortunate that this tragic incident had to happen.:( I agree with Jhonnie that something more needs to be done to alert those from swimming then just a sign. Sure, the sign says it all but needless not for everyone. I understand that it will cost a lot, but some people feel that they have the strength to overcome the dangers even though a lot of beaches here are PEI aren't protected by life guards, putting this change in place needs to be considered.

  • StopandThink
    August 09, 2014 - 10:10

    So Sad

  • townie22
    August 09, 2014 - 08:29

    when there is a riptide warning out, don't even let your children play in knee deep water, all it takes is one wave to knock them down and they can get pulled out. my deepest condolences to the Family of this poor lady.

  • Jhonnie Walker
    August 09, 2014 - 06:33

    In my own opinion, the true bravery cannot be measured on how you fight physically. But it is how you help other people willingly. And in line with this I wanted to suggest this site where I got the safety of my child. It’s a mobile safety App that has a relentless protection offers to all families. Check it here: http://safekidzone.com/?a_aid=52f12fafd5de8

  • jacinta
    August 08, 2014 - 21:18

    What a shame, to loose your life on what was supposed to be a pleasure. My sympathies.

  • Mike Scott
    August 08, 2014 - 20:13

    Why don't you people say nice things? Obviously she can't hear you now. Why do nt you walk the beaches next time and wRn people ?

    • Cromwell
      August 09, 2014 - 11:54

      Surely anyone who ignores or otherwise disregards safety advice, as appears to have been the case in this tragic event, not only put themselves at risk but also those who are tasked with the subsequent rescue/recovery.

  • Learn
    August 08, 2014 - 16:00

    There were warnings EVERYWHERE today not to swim. When are people going to learn?

    • Winniekins
      August 09, 2014 - 09:09

      A nice day turned out to be a sad one for this lady and her family. My sympathies as well.

    • Winniekins
      August 09, 2014 - 09:09

      A nice day turned out to be a sad one for this lady and her family. My sympathies as well.

    • Winniekins
      August 09, 2014 - 09:09

      A nice day turned out to be a sad one for this lady and her family. My sympathies as well.

    • Stan Hope
      August 09, 2014 - 09:34

      Well I guess this poor soul learned ... the hard way. Nice compassionate post buddy.