Adam Brunt, 30, was enrolled in the firefighter program at Durham College and police say he was attending the extra-curricular course to get additional credit outside of the college.
Brunt was one of 12 students who entered the Saugeen River to simulate a scenario of moving through fast-flowing water in a rescue situation. The students were wearing specialized safety gear but were not harnessed to one another.
According to Inspector Chris Knoll of Hanover police, Brunt was forced under the water by the strong current and became trapped beneath a “dam of ice” that formed in the channel.
The other students and the course instructor did not realize he was missing until after the exercise had ended, Knoll said.
Police searched for Brunt for 15 minutes before he was brought to the surface. He was rushed to hospital, where doctors attempted to resuscitate him for three hours before he was declared dead.
"We never in a million years expected this to happen. We are in shock," wrote Brunt's girlfriend Jenna McNamee in a series of tweets posted shortly after midnight.
"And the love of my life is gone."
The exercise was being conducted by a private firm from Newmarket. Knoll said the instructor present was the owner of the company, but that police are not releasing the name of the company or owner at the present time.
The Coroner’s Office is involved in the investigation and a post mortem is scheduled to be done today in London.
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