A swimmer from Toronto has died at Victoria Beach in Cobourg despite valiant efforts of emergency services.
The tragedy happened on Saturday, August 12, 2023 shortly before 4 p.m. just east of the east pier.
Toronto resident , Antonio Tinoco and his wife Debbie were walking back to their 42-foot sailboat that was tied to the inner wall of the east pier south of the Coast Guard station when they heard someone struggling in the water.
“We ran (to the east side of the pier), we saw him. He was obviously having trouble.”
Tinoco quickly ran to his sailboat to grab a life ring and started to throw it at the person in the water.
Tinoco tied the life ring to the pier and threw it out to him, but the ring was just a bit short and couldn’t reach the person.
“I was just trying to get it as close to him as possible – and then he went down.”
“He just wouldn’t grab it.”
Debbie ran to the Coast Guard station to get help and notified a Cobourg Police officer who was in the area.
Tinoco said the first officer arriving on scene immediately took off his duty belt off and jumped in the water to search for the man.
“I told him, I’ll watch your stuff just go.”
The officer took the life ring, but by that time the victim was under the water.
Members of the Coast Guard immediately came to the scene and searched the waters for the victim.
Another officer arrived and quickly went in the water to aid in the search.
Members of the Cobourg Fire Department, Northumberland County Paramedics, Northumberland OPP and other Cobourg Police officers searched the area where the man was last seen.
Approximately 15-minutes after arriving the victim was found in the water.
He was immediately taken out of the water and emergency responders began CPR, rushed the man to hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.
Speaking with Tinoco on the pier shortly after the incident, with four empty life guard stands on the beach he wonders if the outcome would have been different had they been occupied.
“It could have – I think so. If a life guard is there and he’s looking out on the water, he would have seen me, waving and throwing a buoy (life ring) at somebody. He would have seen it. He would have came for sure.”
“It was agonizing watching this happen in front of our eyes and feel so powerless to be able to do more to help. Not a single person heard us screaming and waving to people on the beach. Why aren’t there lifeguards here in these dangerous waters?”
Tinoco’s wife agreed stating, “I would like to express my disappointment in the sheer indifference and complete lack of concern that i encounted from all the people on the beach as i ran by yelling for help while someone was drowning not too far away.”
“The only person who even acknowledged my cries for help was a guy who looked at me and simply said, “really?”
“What’s wrong with people these days – is there no humanity left in us?
“It’s sad. I would also like to say that it’s an outrage that on a nice summer Saturday in a touristy town like Cobourg, on a busy popular beach there was not one single lifeguard on duty. I couldn’t believe it! I strongly believe that if there had been a lifeguard on duty that man would not have drowned.”
The couple would also like to convey their condolences to the victim’s family.
It appears the man who was in his mid-20’s, drove his motorcycle down from Toronto and went for a swim when he got into difficulty swimming past the orange markers in the water.
“We got here and he was still above the water, but there just wasn’t enough time – it was a bit too late.”