Rescue scene

An RCMP officer stands by as a paramedic talks to a woman who's companion was pulled unconscious from Okanagan Lake.

Despite the efforts of fellow beach goers, a man who was pulled unconscious from Okanagan Lake on Tuesday afternoon died after being rushed from the scene for treatment.

The victim, believed by rescuers to be in his 60s, was taken to hospital in serious condition around 3 p.m., but was declared dead not long after, the BC Coroners Service confirmed Tuesday evening.

“We’re not sure if it’s a drowning or another medical issue,” acting Capt. Curtis Gibbons of the Penticton Fire Department said at the scene.

The rescue unfolded with unusual speed, because Gibbons and his team were doing driver training on Lakeshore Drive when they were flagged down for help.

The victim was discovered floating in the water by Edmonton woman Candice Johnston and her two sons, who were snorkelling nearby, about 10 meters out from shore.

Johnston said she first noticed the victim because he was wearing a unique snorkel. A few minutes later, she saw him floating motionless, face down in the water, and had one of her sons check on him. The man did not respond, so Johnston called for help to pull the man ashore.

Bystanders performed CPR on the victim before paramedics took over.

Johnston said the colour appeared to return to the man’s face before he went to hospital, but she wasn’t sure if he was conscious or not.

“It’s something that’s going to change us forever,” said Johnston, who is in Penticton on vacation.

This article was edited to include confirmation of death from the BC Coroners Service