- Rainstorm hammers parts of southern Manitoba
- RM of Pipestone declares state of emergency after heavy rain
Emergency crews were called just before 2 a.m. CT to the campground at Falcon Lake in eastern Manitoba.
A large tree had fallen on a tent during a period of heavy rain and wind. There were two people in the tent at the time, RCMP said.
The 45-year-old man was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead. His name will not be released to the public, police said.
A 44-year-old woman, also from Quebec, was treated for minor injures. Police confirmed that she was the man's wife.
"I’m told other areas of the campground or the beach area didn't have significant winds, but this particular place was localized. The wind was significant, there was a number of trees reported to be blown down," said RCMP Cpl. Miles Hiebert.
There were no other injuries reported.
Neighbour called 911
Elsie Loewen, who was in a neighbouring campsite, said she called 911 after learning that a man was trapped under a tree.
"All of a sudden we heard this terrible noise…. The next thing we knew, the neighbour lady came and said there was a man trapped; a tree has fallen on the tent," she said.
Loewen, who is a nurse, said she tried to help the man's wife, but the woman spoke only French and didn't say much because she appeared to be in shock.
"I was trying to console her and just watching. But the tree was so big — it was right across the tent," Loewen said.
"I just held her and hugged her and just was with her and tried to comfort her. Yeah, it was just a terribly helpless feeling. We just didn't know what to do."
About 100 metres away from the campsite, Gerry Klassen said Tuesday night's storm knocked out power to the campground, but he didn't think the situation was that bad.
"Very sad day here. It's a lovely campground," he said.
Michael Walker, the general manager at the Falcon Lake bakery, was working late when the storm hit. He saw tables and chairs flying, and trees falling over.
"No one should be in a tent when it's that bad, although it wasn't expected so … it's bad, no one wants that obviously," he said.
The storm also knocked out power to the entire town, located about 130 kilometres east of Winnipeg, near the Ontario border.
Tree was healthy
Geoff Smith, a Manitoba Conservation officer in Falcon Lake, said staff are looking into how the tree fell onto the man's tent.
Smith said the wind picked up quickly in that particular area, but the tree that was knocked over was not old or diseased.
He described it as "a rather healthy spruce tree that was blown over, pulling up the rootball and everything that landed on his tent."
"So he was camped amongst some trees, the trees are fairly sparse in the area he was camping in," Smith added.
The strong winds seemed to have been isolated to that particular area, said Smith, who added that many provincial campgrounds have structures where people can seek safety.
"In many of our campgrounds we have pretty solid structures like washrooms, shower buildings, cook shacks, and they make good refuge for a big wind event," he said.
Because the incident happened so early in the morning, there was no conservation staff on hand to warn campers, he added.