Man Drowns While Swimming In Non-Guarded Section Of Lake While Family Members Look On


On July 14, 1996, at approximately 4:30 PM, 21-year-old Malcolm Widdle attended George’s Lake, along with members of his family, with the intention of swimming and picnicking. The group arrived in two vehicles and consisted of Ralph, Malcolm, Robert, their mother, sister Anita, and her son Anthony. They paid their fee at the entrance to the Park and proceeded with their vehicles down the main road, along the East bank of the lake, towards the parking and picnic areas of the park. Because the main swimming area and the picnic area at the south side of the Lake appeared to be crowded, they parked their cars mid-way along the East bank side of the road, rather than in the designated parking areas. After parking their cars alongside the road, they set out a blanket and prepared and ate snacks.

At approximately 5:00 PM on this day, Ralph, an 18-year-old non-swimmer, was wading in approximately 2 – 3 feet of water on the shelf ledge adjacent to the East bank of the Lake. Suddenly and without warning, Ralph slipped off the shelf ledge into deeper water approximately 7 – 11 feet deep. Ralph’s distress was recognized by several family members who were swimming in the water nearby and responded to his distress. During this incident, Robert was pulled under by Ralph. By the time Robert surfaced, he saw Ralph being pulled to shore by Anthony. During this incident, Malcolm submerged below the surface and his distress went unnoticed by the other family members on shore and in the water.

No one is certain how long Malcolm was submerged, but when his disappearance was noticed, Robert re-entered the water and recovered Malcolm from below the surface. Malcolm was pulled unconscious from the Lake by Robert.

Sam Robertson, a park employee, was stationed at the Gate House as the Gate Keeper and was notified of the incident by Robert who drove up to the Gate House in a car. Mitch Yearling, a park employee, who was also in the Gate House at this time, then notified Lifeguard Alex Krueger of the emergency by radio, although it was not yet clear what the emergency was or where the exact location of the incident was. Mitch then called 9-1-1 and stayed by the Gate House in order to direct responding Fire/EMS units to the location of the incident.

When Sam Robertson arrived at the incident scene, he observed Malcolm lying on his back partly in the water. Sam pulled Malcolm further out of the water and observed no life signs. Meanwhile, Alex Krueger had been notified of the incident by Mitch via radio and responded by progressing towards the incident scene on foot with a first aid kit and flutter board. Sam saw Alex running along the south bank of the lake towards the incident scene. He then hopped into one of the vehicles parked alongside the road and drove to the south east corner of the lake to pick up Alex. He then reversed the car and drove Alex back to the incident scene.

Upon arrival at the scene, Alex assessed Malcolm to be in cardiac arrest. Alex then administered CPR (rescue breathing and chest compressions) and continued this care until the arrival of the first Firefighter, Bob Baldwin. Bob took over chest compressions, and Alex continued mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing until relieved by responding Fire/EMS personnel.

Upon arrival to the hospital Emergency Department, Malcolm was pronounced dead as a result of drowning.

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