Search continues for missing woman who fell into the Petawawa River

Petawawa — The Ontario Provincial Police are continuing to search for a young woman who fell into the Petawawa River on Sunday afternoon.

The OPP responded to a call about 4 p.m. stating the unidentified woman had entered the Petawawa River from the old railway bridge in Petawawa. At this time, police believe the person who entered the river is a female teenager from the Petawawa area.  

“We believe it is a 17-year-old girl who was reported missing later that Sunday night,” Const. Shawn Peever of the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP said.

Police will not be able to make a positive identification until the teen is found, he stressed.

The search continued on Monday with assistance from members of OPP’s Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (USRU). A helicopter from OPP’s Aviation Service Unit will also be taking part in the search.  

The circumstances leading to her entering the water remain under investigation. There were unconfirmed reports she may have dropped her cell phone and was attempting to retrieve it when she fell into the river.

It is believed she entered the water from the old CP railroad bridge. This bridge is located upstream from the Petawawa Boulevard Bridge. Const. Peever explained there are two bridges there, a footbridge and the railway bridge before that.

The water is extremely fast moving along the Petawawa River, so much so that extensive erosion has occurred along the riverbank, compromising a building further down the river. Const. Peever said the OPP are advising the public to stay away from the riverbanks.
“We have seen what the erosion can do,” he said. “The riverbanks are too unstable. We don’t want another person in the river.”

Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet said the incident took place about the same time as a building was being demolished along the Petawawa River because of erosion concerns.
“So police, ambulance and fire were on this instantly,” he said.

Mayor Sweet said he understood she entered the water above where the erosion had taken place along the river.

“It is a very tragic situation,” he said.

The municipality has been experiencing unprecedented high water levels along both the Petawawa River and the Ottawa River. As a result, the town has blocked off access to Centennial Park and Petawawa Point and are urging people to stay away from fast moving water.

“It is a very volatile situation,” he said. “We have had some nice days in terms of weather, but the water is still way above normal levels.”

People need to stay away from the water and embankments which could be compromised.
“The water is coming at such a speed it is undermining the banks,” he said. “In the summertime it is no big problem but with the magnitude of these floods and the temperature of the water it is not safe.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP at 1-888-310-1122.