24-year-old former UBC football player drowns in Fraser River
VANCOUVER -- Shortly after noon Monday, members of the Canadian Coast Guard in a zodiac boat removed a body from the muddy shore of the Fraser River in the area where 24-year-old Richmond resident Kory Nagata went missing in the water Sunday evening.
Members of Nagata’s family were nearby watching as the body was loaded into the boat and were later seen speaking with RCMP investigators.
According to RCMP, the family later confirmed the body was that of Nagata.
The Hugh Boyd Secondary grad played football as a running back for the UBC Thunderbirds before continuing his studies at the Sauder School of Business.
On Monday afternoon, a group of his friends who have known him since kindergarten laid flowers on the river bank near where Nagata’s body was found.
They were too shaken to be interviewed by CTV News but said at just 24, Nagata was already a big part of the community in Richmond and he will be greatly missed.
Richmond RCMP say Nagata jumped into the water Sunday while chasing a football from a dock near the Pacific Gateway Hotel, which is on the Fraser River not far from Vancouver International Airport.
But police say once he was in the water he couldn’t get back to safety. Witnesses tried to help but police say the man disappeared from their view.
"A lot of people ran to his aid, but again the fast moving current swept him down so swiftly that many people in boats were trying to rescue him but he went under the water very swiftly," said Insp. Keith Bramhill.
A search was launched around 9:30 Sunday night. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre confirms three Coast Guard vessels were involved, as well as Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue.
Crews could be seen shining high-powered lights in the water as they searched for any sign of Nagata.
The marine search was called off just after midnight.
Near midday Monday, as the tides receded in the area, Nagata’s body could be seen in the shallow mud flats near the river bank about 200 metres from where he went under.
The Fraser River in the area is currently under a high streamflow advisory, and the current on Monday morning appeared to be quite strong.
David Campbell, of the BC River Forecast Centre, said the Fraser is flowing at a higher rate now than at any time in July in more than 100 years.
"It’s extremely rare and so when we go out to the river it’s not really the way it normally looks in July and people should bear that in mind as well," said Campbell, who predicts the flow to decrease in the coming days but still warned people to remain cautious near the waterway.
Provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth weighed in on Monday as well, saying a number of rivers and streams across B.C. are flowing extremely fast and high right now.
"People need to stay away. The rivers are not safe. The streams are not safe. And people need to stay away from these areas," Farnworth said.
That danger has hit far too close to home for friends and family now grieving the sudden, unexpected and tragic death of Kory Nagata.