An 11-year-old boy was riding on a boat in Rockport, Ontario, on Saturday when the vessel flew high into the air and capsized.
The boat was operated by the boy’s father, who was the only adult on board with four other children, according to The Ottawa Citizen. A friend of the unidentified man said it was a “freak accident” that caused the boat to flip over in the St. Lawrence River that afternoon.
All of the people on the boat were rescued — except for the 11-year-old, whom authorities are still searching for in the waters, according to CBC. Sandra Barr, a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police, said the boy’s family is “absolutely devastated” as search teams continue to look for any signs of the preteen in the surrounding area.
“I’ve never been in that situation, but just from talking to them, there is devastation,” Barr reportedly told CBC. “There is concern. There is worry. All of those things. As far as this investigation — it won’t be closed.”
The boy and his family — originally from Ottawa — were vacationing in Ontario when the jarring crash happened, according to CTV News. Witnesses told authorities that the accident sent all five people on the boat flying into the waters below.
After the accident, the friend of the boy’s father said he rushed out to the capsized boat to help.
“I jumped on my Sea-Doo right away, there were people out on boats helping us search right away,” the man reportedly told The Ottawa Citizen. “I went under the boat to see if [the boy] was trapped underneath, but I couldn’t see him.”
According to The Ottawa Citizen, police said that alcohol did not play a role in the boating accident.
But Suzanne Runciman, a constable with the Ontario Provincial Police, confirmed to CBC that the boy didn’t have a life vest on when the boat capsized. Eighty-four percent of people who drowned in a boating accident in the U.S. weren’t wearing a life jacket at the time, according to data from the U.S. Coast Guard.