A 14-year-old boy died on Monday after collapsing at a Quebec water park that was crowded with bathers trying to escape the torrid temperatures of a July heat wave.
The boy lost consciousness while climbing the stairs to a popular waterslide attraction at the Mont St. Sauveur Water Park north of Montreal, the second death of a youngster at the park in less than two weeks.
On June 23, a nine-year-old drowned in a wave pool at the Laurentians park while on a school outing.
Quebec provincial police say Monday's death, which occurred as 30C-plus temperatures and high humidity drove people to seek escape from the heat, appears to be linked to a heart condition. The boy, from a nearby town in the Laurentians, was at the park with a friend.
No criminal charges are being considered against the park's owners, said Sergeant Benoît Richard of the Sûreté du Québec. "Our hypothesis is that the death was due to natural causes," he said. "There was no foul play."
The boy was on the steps leading to the slide when he blacked out and fell, police say. Park staff and other customers administered first aid until paramedics arrived. The boy was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead.
Forecasts of a week-long heat wave and the start of summer holidays has water-safety authorities urging caution around water.
"From the moment you touch the water there's a risk, just like when you touch fire," said Raynald Hawkins, executive director for Quebec of the Lifesaving Society of Canada. He encouraged parents to ensure children have basic survival skills in the water, and to alert caregivers, such as schools or camps, if a child can't swim.
Still, Mr. Hawkins says that nearly all drownings in Quebec occur in unsupervised bodies of water such as lakes; the presence of lifeguards greatly increases safety. Of the 900 drownings in Quebec between 1998 and 2007, only nine were in public pools with lifeguards; one was in a water park, according to figures compiled by the lifesaving society.
On June 23, nine-year-old Jeremy Mulumba died on a field trip to mark the end of classes. The boy's father questioned whether there were adequate safety precautions for his son, who knew how to swim. The death is under investigation by a coroner.
A spokesman for the St. Sauveur water park, Christian Dufour, said the boy's death was the first since the park opened in 1986. He said Monday's death was unfortunate but the park regarded it as an accident. "We're upset by this," Mr. Dufour said. "But there was no link to any of the park's activities."