Andrew Milner, who played high school and university basketball away from home but represented Nova Scotia proudly, has died in a boating accident.
An Antigonish native, Milner, 19, was on a trip with a teammate when a canoe capsized in frigid water. His body was discovered Wednesday morning.
The two were canoeing near Cranbrook, B.C., about four hours from Calgary. No one else was hurt.
Cape Breton University coach Matt Skinn first got to know Milner when Skinn was coaching at St. Francis Xavier University, and the boy was less than 10 years old.
“He was always in the gym,” said Skinn, who went on to coach Milner on the Nova Scotia team that won the national U-17 tournament in Halifax in 2015, a tournament in which Milner played a crucial role in the gold medal game win over Ontario.
He went on to star at Rothesay Netherwood school outside Saint John before Skinn, by then an assistant at the University of Calgary, recruited him to the Dinos.
“That was one of the first things I thought of, that he was out there because of me,” said Skinn. “I had a great relationship with him.
“It’s not what I’m going to remember about him as a player, it’s that he had so much potential as a person. He comes from an unbelievable family, and I can’t imagine what they’re going through.”
A news release from Cranbrook RCMP said police responded to a report of an overturned boat on Moyie Lake early Tuesday morning.
“One of the occupants had made it to shore, but a second male was missing,” said the release. “Extensive patrols were made along the shoreline by Cranbrook RCMP and Search and Rescue. The Police Dog Service was able to locate items which belonged to the missing male. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone) was also utilized in the search.
“The RCMP Underwater Recovery Team was called in and located the missing male deceased in the water. Our thoughts are with the family of the young male who died. It’s an unfortunate reminder of how nature can change in an instant and result in tragic consequences.”
Cranbrook RCMP and the B.C. Coroner’s service are continuing to investigate.
Const. Katie Forgeron said the lake where the accident took place is cold year round, but she couldn’t say if hypothermia was the cause of death.
The athletic department at the University of Calgary was holding a counselling session on Wednesday afternoon.
The Dinos made it to the U Sports Final 8 in Halifax both years Milner was on the roster, winning the national championship in his first season and losing in the championship game last month.
After their championship win over Ryerson, Milner described the “awesome atmosphere” at Scotiabank Centre during the title game.
“It was so amazing — being on the floor (playing for a championship) — in a place where I had watched the tournament growing up with my family,” he said.