SPRING COULEE , Alta. — Two teens who died and one who is missing after spending time boating with friends on a river in southern Alberta are from the Spring Valley Hutterite Colony, a community member says.
George Waldner said everyone in the colony is in shock.
“Words can’t describe how heavy it is,” Waldner said in an interview Thursday, adding that he did not want to identify the three girls out of respect for their families.
He said Hutterite colonies from other parts of the province and Saskatchewan have arrived to support people who are grieving.
“Everybody is tight in the community,” he said. “Relatives show up and everybody comes together.”
The group of teens were on the Saint Mary River around Spring Coulee, Alta., about halfway between Lethbridge and the United States border, on Wednesday evening. Waldner said they are all close friends.
They were drifting on the river in aluminum boats that are a little bigger than canoes, he added.
“The river was a little higher, which makes it fun and that’s what young people do,” Waldner said. ”But it was a little too aggressive and I don’t think they knew the river was swift like that.”
RCMP Cpl. Tammy Keibel said the two girls found dead were 16 and 17 years old. She could not give the exact age of the missing girl, but said she is about the same age.
The girls, who were at the river with seven other people, had trouble trying to get out of the water, an RCMP news release said.
Keibel added that the body of the 17-year-old was first discovered, and two other girls had been swept away.
Officers from several RCMP detachments and members of Lethbridge Search and Rescue worked into the night. The body of the 16-year-old was found Thursday morning and efforts continued to find the remaining teen.
— By Daniela Germano in Edmonton
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2020
The Canadian Press