Man drowns trying to save son

British Columbia

Arnulf Salazar was an amazing father, husband, brother and friend


A man is dead after drowning at a campsite on Chehalis Lake, located off a remote forest service outside of Harrison Mills in the Fraser Valley.The incident occurred on July 17, 2021 according to Vancouver is Awesome.

The incident occurred at the Skwellepil Creek 4×4-access-only campsite, roughly 30 kilometres up Chehalis Creek forest service road.

Glacier Media was on the scene soon after the man was pulled from the lake at approximately 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, July 17.

Multiple witnesses reported that a child who was swimming in the lake was experiencing trouble around 20 feet from shore, and the man swam out to attempt to rescue them.

The man himself got into trouble and ended up sinking to the bottom of the lake, and another man swam out and ultimately brought the child to shore.

Nearby campers reacted quickly, teaming up to retrieve the man from the lake – about 15-20 feet below the surface – as another man visiting the campsite on a dirt bike called in an SOS using a handheld satellite communication device.

Family members gave the man chest compressions for about an hour before the first paramedics arrived on the scene via helicopter.

Onlookers and police at drowning scene.(Photo: Vancouver Is Awesome)

One BCEHS helicopter with four paramedics attended, as well as one ambulance with three paramedics, two search and rescue vehicles, and multiple RCMP vehicles.

The paramedics who arrived via helicopter were forced to land across a creek from the campsite and make their way through the water, and after attending to the man for a few minutes he was pronounced dead.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started by the family and has raised  over $17,000 in a $20,000 goal.

According to one of the man’s sons, their family was enjoying a picnic at the lake when his father spotted his brother – who has nonverbal autism – drowning in the lake.

The father rushed out to save his child, and after reaching him ended up getting into trouble in the water himself.

A man named Nick McCleary was packing up camp to go home when he heard the family calling for help, so he started swimming out to the two.

As McCleary tells Glacier Media in an email, he didn’t think twice about jumping in, noting “I just hope someone would do the same thing if my son was in trouble like that.”

He explains that “When I got to the man and boy, the man passed me the boy… I told him that I had him, I’ve got him.”

He says that he looked back twice while he was swimming the boy to shore, and it “looked like [Salazar] was wading in the water, so I thought he’d be ok. But after I got to shore I looked back and I didn’t see him anymore.”

After bringing the boy to shore he was so out of breath that he was certain he would drown if he went back out to attempt to save Salazar as well.

A group of campers then teamed up and ultimately dove down and retrieved Salazar, and his family performed chest compressions on him until first responders arrived, roughly an hour later.

Arnulf Salazar is survived by his wife and four children, two of which have autism.

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