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Body of 12-year-old Winnipeg boy who fell into Sturgeon Falls found

The body of a Winnipeg boy who fell into Sturgeon Falls on Saturday has been found following a desperate underwater search that lasted more than a day.

Manitoba RCMP confirmed the body of 12-year-old Usaid Habib was found on Monday around 1 a.m.

As CTV News previously reported, Usaid’s family had been staying at the Nutimik campground in Whiteshell Provincial Park for the weekend and decided to hike to Sturgeon Falls on Saturday morning.

While at the falls, Usaid was climbing down the rocks when he slipped and fell into the water. Almost immediately, Usaid went under in the rapids.

Manitoba RCMP said a bystander jumped into the water to try to save the boy, but wasn't able to bring him to shore.

Usaid’s father, Danish Habib, said he heard his son scream and slip into the water.

“I just couldn’t do anything, anything for him,” he said. “He just went over there and within two seconds, he was in the rapids. I don’t know how to swim so I couldn’t save him."

Habib noted it was a horrible memory, adding that his whole family was there.

“Everybody saw him drowning and we couldn’t do anything for him.”

Tara Seel, a media relations officer with the Manitoba RCMP, said Mounties were called around 11:45 a.m. on Saturday and immediately brought in the underwater recovery team along with more resources including a drone operator to help with the search.

Seel said divers were not deployed due to the fast-moving current. Instead, sonar and robots were used to scour the lake.

"They were out on the water desperately trying to find this boy, and you know always hoping against hope that he's found some sort of branch to cling on to," she said.

"To find the remains of that individual and have to go and tell the family, that's not something that any officer takes lightly."

The RCMP was assisted in its search by the Hutterian Emergency Aquatic Response Team (HEART). Paul Maendel, the dive coordinator with HEART, said this kind of search leaves a toll.

"We believe, fundamentally, if you have the capacity and the capability to help somebody, then you should do it,” he said.

Both Seel and Maendel are reminding Manitobans to be safe on waterways during the spring and summer.

“Don't swim alone,” Seel said. “You never want to go into a body of water by yourself.

“Swim within your abilities and know your limitations. Know what you're capable of, especially when it comes to a non-pool swimming environment. Conditions can change rapidly.”

Seel said inexperienced swimmers and young children should wear life jackets in the water, and people should be aware of their surroundings when out.

Christopher Love with Lifesaving Society Manitoba says on average, there are 22 fatal drownings in Manitoba each year, with 70 per cent happening between May and September.

"Everybody needs to learn how to swim,” he said. “That’s an important layer of protection and a first step in helping prevent drownings across the country for absolutely everybody.” 

- With files from CTV’s Daniel Halmarson. Top Stories

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