Pond mourns dead teen
Prayers assist in retrieving body from frozen lake
A 17-year-old boy from Pond Inlet died after he fell through the ice last week.
Dan George Kippomee and his older brother were busy setting two family fish nets in a lake, 12 miles south of town during the early afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 18.
The day grew dark, the brothers became separated, and the youngest, driving their ATV to retrieve a missing ice pick, crashed through the lake’s frozen surface.
By the time the older brother arrived at the water’s edge, the only sign of his younger sibling, floating on the surface, was a coat.
The older brother picked it out of the water with the end of his rifle, then started to head back to town by foot. Residents traveling by snowmobile found him part way and gave him a lift.
They arrived back in Pond Inlet by 6 a.m. the next day. By 8:30 a.m., 14 members of the search and rescue team were mobilized. An hour later, they arrived at the scene.
The search for a body would continue for three days.
Canadian Rangers worked through the night, using searchlights powered by generators. The search and rescue team continued during the day. Before one party took over for the other, they held hands and prayed.
During the early hours of Friday, October 21, the generators ran out of fuel and the Rangers headed home.
It wasn’t until later that day, just before noon, when the search ended and the body was found.
Pond Inlet’s mayor, David Qamaniq, said the community was saddened by the death but glad the body was recovered.
“We’re happy we found the body. We go to the lake to fish, using nets, this time of year, before the ice freezes over.”
The depth of the lake and milky consistency of its water didn’t help search efforts. A diver tried to aid the search at one point, but the water was too opaque for him to help. “It’s almost like going into a fog,” Qamaniq said. “You can’t see nothing.”
A funeral was held for the Grade 10 student on the afternoon of Monday, October 25.
The hamlet requested a sonar unit from the Government of Nunavut’s emergency services office in Iqaluit to assist with the search, but Qamaniq said they were told by government employees that, after being shifted to several different offices, the gadget could not be found.
“I was very disappointed. They don’t seem to be ready for an emergency at all.”
Qamaniq thanks those who helped during the search, including volunteers who donated food and equipment.
Police and emergency services personnel remind residents to use caution while traveling over lake ice at this time of year.