Sue Barclay Gallant’s husband Dan drowned after being pulled out to sea by a powerful undertow at a Prince Edward Island beach and she’s speaking out to prevent more tragedies.
She says not enough is known about the phenomenon and beachgoers need to be made aware of the risks, especially since danger can strike so quickly.
Barclay Gallant said the whole incident in which her husband drowned took only minutes.
“All of a sudden, there was, I’m going to call it a rogue wave that almost knocked everybody over,” she said. “It was like the plug was pulled on the bottom of the ocean they were being sucked out really
Her family was on vacation and decided to go for a swim at Bear River Beach, an unsupervised beach near St. Margaret’s, P.E.I.
Gallant says they weren’t deep when the rogue wave hit. Her husband, Dan, her brother-in-law, and his two teenage children were dragged into deeper water. Her brother-in-law and niece reached safety while other beachgoers swam in to help. They helped rescue her nephew, but couldn’t reach her husband.
“I can tell you by the time that fire rescue and fisherman arrived one of the gentleman was way over to the right and I have not taken my eyes off of him because he was the only person at that point that I could see,” Barclay Gallant said. “My nephew had been rescued and I knew I had lost my husband.”
His body was soon recovered by fishermen.
Barclay Gallant knows it’s not for every beach to be supervised but she says there are steps that can be taken to make the public aware of unsafe water conditions.
She says if there had been a sign to warn people of potential rip currents, they would have stayed away from the beach that day. She urges caution.
“I wouldn’t recommend going to just any beach, especially with children.” she said. “I really do recommend you go to a supervised beach if you have kids that like the water and want to swim.”
To raise awareness of the dangers of rip-currents, Barclay Gallant reached out to an expert named Chris Houser from the University of Windsor, he’s coming east for a series of talks starting Thursday in Riverview, N.B. He’ll do two more before heading to Prince Edward Island.
With files from Jonathan MacInnis.
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