STEINBACH, MAN., –
Family and colleagues remember a 24-year-old pilot and flight instructor who drowned while bathing on Friday.
He was one of three people to die in three separate drownings in the province in a single day.
The man’s brother in New York identified Sandeep Bandaru of Steinbach, Man., as a drowning victim at Reynolds Pond northeast of Richer.
“I was always proud and when we found out he drowned I was like there was no way, there was no way Sandeep could drown because he is an excellent swimmer,” Sanjay Bandaru said in a Zoom interview.
Sanjay said Sandeep moved to Canada to become a pilot.
He trained at Harv’s Air just south of Steinbach. Operations manager Adam Penner said Sandeep was working to become a commercial airline pilot, but because of COVID-19 he stayed at Steinbach to work as a flight instructor.
“Sandeep was highly regarded and well respected as a flight instructor and so it was a tough thing for our staff and customers to bear,” Penner said. “Sandeep was very motivated. He was a very hardworking person.”
“He had clear goals. He was a very likeable person.”
He said Sandeep was swimming with colleagues on a hot evening after work when the drowning happened.
A memorial has been created in memory of Sandeep Bandaru, a man who drowned at Reynolds Pond on June 4, 2021. (Source: GoFundMe)
RCMP say officers were called to Reynolds Pond around 7 p.m. Friday. Police said Sandeep attempted to swim to an island about 100 yards from shore, but turned around, went underwater and did not surface.
Sandeep was one of three people who drowned in Manitoba on Friday alone.
“Having three in a day is not something we see very often in the province of Manitoba,” said Christopher Love, Safety Management and Safety Management Coordinator at the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba. .
At approximately 3:30 p.m. along the Whitemouth River, RCMP said a 39-year-old man slipped on rocks and fell into running water near Elma Rapids.
Police said a passerby in a canoe brought the man ashore, but he died at the scene.
Then, just after 7 p.m., on Lake Manitoba at the exit of the Portage Diversion, RCMP said a 17-year-old boy had slipped from a sandbar into deeper water and been dragged into east of the diversion where he had fallen underwater. Officers said friends pulled him ashore and a bystander started CPR, but the boy died at the scene.
Although he cannot comment on the specifics of each drowning, Love said people should familiarize themselves with the conditions on the lakes and rivers where they spend time and remember that water temperatures are now warmer. cooler than they are in the summer months.
“And that water temperature is going to sap your strength,” Love said. “It will prevent your muscles from working properly the longer you stay in the water.”
Sanjay said he is now working to bring his brother back to India so their parents can see him one last time.
“I would just tell people to be careful,” Sanjay said. “Even if we excel at something, there are instances where we cannot control.”
He hopes what happened will serve as a reminder for people to be extra careful in and around bodies of water.