Teen swept up in storm tunnel after heavy rain found dead: Toronto fire

By Nairah Ahmed and Jordan Omstead in Toronto

Emergency crews say a teenager has died after getting caught in a Toronto storm drain tunnel during a bout of heavy rain. 

Toronto fire says it received a call around 1:20 a.m. Friday about a person who was swept into the water at Earl Bales Park, the site of a large stormwater management pond in the area of North York.

Toronto Fire Services Capt. Dan Vieira says one teenager managed to get out of the water and then sought someone else to call police to search for his missing friend.

Vieira confirms the missing teen was found dead and the family has been notified.

Vieira says reports suggest this was a case of misadventure after the two teens ventured into the storm drain system and were overcome by rushing water in the tunnel as a rainstorm moved over the city.  

Toronto police say the teens entered the sewer system by lifting a manhole cover and travelling approximately 300 metres in the tunnel before the water came in and swept them through the system.

“One of the individuals was very luckily hanging onto the side of the bank to save himself and the other person unfortunately drowned and succumbed to his injuries,” Vieira said. 

Toronto police say marine units were searching the area and remain on scene with Toronto Fire Services. They say the investigation continues, but at this time there is nothing suspicious about the incident.

Police say signage warning people of high water levels and to “stay out of the sewer system” were visible.

Environment Canada reported about nine millimetres of rainfall in Toronto on Thursday and the city was briefly under a severe thunderstorm watch in the late evening. 

Banner image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023.