Three people from the same family who drowned at a west-central Alberta waterfall Tuesday night have been identified as a husband and wife and their nephew.
Edmonton residents Dr. Partab Rai Oad, 38, his wife Venjhar Oad, 38, and their nephew Anoop Kumar Oad, 25, were killed in a tragic series of events at Crescent Falls, west of Nordegg, Alta.
Family member Wakash Oad said his cousin Anoop, an exchange student from Pakistan studying engineering at the University of Alberta, was the first to get pulled under after going for a swim in the falls.
Partab and Venjhar, Wakash’s aunt and uncle, then each tried to rescue Anoop, but got swept under as well as their three children, ages 10, 6 and 3, screamed for help from shore.
Edmonton residents Venjhar Oad, 38, and Dr. Partab Rai Oad, 38, are shown with their three children. (Supplied)
They were at the bank at the time so they witnessed everything,” said Wakash.
Two of the victims’ bodies were recovered later Tuesday and a third was recovered Wednesday.
The children are now in the care of family members, who have gathered in Calgary where RCMP transported the bodies to, Wakash told CTV News Edmonton.
The family’s bodies will likely be taken back to Pakistan to be buried there, he said. A memorial service will also be held for friends and family in Calgary.
He said other surviving family members are all “in shock” at losing three relatives.
The couple had immigrated to Edmonton a few years ago from Pakistan, where Partab was a practising doctor.
“[Partab] was…thee kind of person who would look for ways to better himself, be a better person,” Wakash said. “‘Very giving, very helpful. His wife as well…I know their whole family is a very, very giving family.”
He also said Anoop had a “big future” ahead of him with his engineering studies at the U of A.
Anoop Kumar Oad, 25, was in Alberta on an exchange program when he drowned at Crescent Falls along with his aunt and uncle. (Supplied)
Two GoFundMe campaigns have been launched to help the surviving children, one to help with funeral costs and another to go to the family.
“The children are now left with no parents and have to deal with the loss of them and their cousin and the memories of the horrific incident that happened right in front of their [very] eyes,” one of the campaigns read.
The drownings were three among 17 that have occurred this year so far, according to Kelly Carter, CEO of the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.
“Last year, we had about nine,” Carter said Thursday.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the spike, with more people getting outside — and fewer supervised swimming areas open.
“We encourage people to go to designated swimming spots and often, that’s at provincial parks and beaches,” said Carter. “Of course, the safest place to go swimming is recreation facilities where there’s supervised lifeguards.”
RCMP issued a statement on the drownings Wednesday, thanking citizens and first responders who jumped into action to try to save the family members’ lives.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by and involved in this tragic incident,” Corp. Ryan Hack, of Rocky Mountain House RCMP, said