scarborough bluffs drowning

Multiple people dead after drowning at Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto this weekend

The Scarborough Bluffs are potentially the city's most scenic natural wonder, drawing visitors to 11 beachfront parks along the 15 km escarpment and its impressive vantages overlooking Lake Ontario.

But the beautiful attraction isn't without its dangers, as seen by the dozens of people who need rescuing each year after attempting to climb down the bluffs despite fencing and signs meant to discourage them from doing just that.

The City of Toronto's emergency services have had to repeatedly remind residents not to venture over the cliffs, while Torontonians regularly remind one another to also be careful of falling rocks and tumultuous waters.

But accidents still seem to happen at the Bluffs too often.

This weekend, police responded to three separate incidents in one evening alone, which sadly resulted in multiple deaths.

First, around 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, a suspicious object was spotted floating a ways' off the shore. When police responded, they tragically discovered it to be a man who was later pronounced dead.

Just two hours later, three people — including a young boy — had to be rescued from the waters in same area. All are currently safe and sound with only minor injuries, and allegedly got into trouble after the two older men attempted to save the boy from drowning.

During that rescue, two other unrelated victims were spotted in the lake nearby, one of whom was rescued and later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

The other, who was unable to be recovered at first and was deemed missing, was finally found early Monday morning after a 36-hour search, unfortunately deceased.

John Tory called the events a "big tragedy" for the city in his press conference today.

Even with many staying home earlier in the beach season due to the pandemic lockdown (with Stage 1 in Toronto lasting well into June and Stage 3 not coming until the end of July), the city has still had its fair share of drownings this summer. 

Beaches along Lake Ontario in Toronto and Wasaga Beach in Collingwood are two of the province's biggest "trouble spots" for such incidents. 

Dozens of deaths on the Great Lakes' waters take place each year, for a total of around 800 between 2010 and 2019. On all bodies of water in Ontario, there have been anywhere from 130 to 178 drowning deaths per year since 2008, according to the Lifesaving Society.

Alcohol, weather conditions and time of day can all be factors, but regardless of the circumstances and how confident you may be in your swimming abilities, it is crucial to stay hypervigilant and err on the side of caution when at the Bluffs or any beach.

Lead photo by

George Hornaday

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