Michael Watson, Jake, Melissa Armstrong and Katrina Norman.
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It was just a regular sunny summer day for Michael Watson as he and his friend Jordan Desfosses decided to go fishing on the Kaministiquia River this past Saturday.
It was a day that ended in tragedy.
Watson, his four-year-old son Jake, Desfosses and his three-year-old niece Zoee piled into the canoe to have some fun.
"We cast, the canoe kind of rocked, it tipped over and we went into the water. We all kind of looked at each other and kind of laughed at first," said Watson.
They quickly realized they needed to get the children to the shore. Watson swam Jake to the shore while Desfosses held onto Zoee.
Watson swam back for Zoee and asked his friend if he would be OK holding onto the boat.
Desfosses said he was fine.
But once Zoee was safely on shore, Watson looked back and his friend was nowhere to be found.
"I screamed his name and I couldn't see him," said Watson.
"He was a good swimmer. I'm not too sure what happened," he added.
Police were called to the scene around 7:30 p.m. and couldn't find the 31-year-old from Peace River, Alta.
Desfosses' body was recovered by the OPP dive team on Monday afternoon around 3:30 p.m.
Watson said the water was cold that day and there was a current. Both children were wearing life jackets, but neither adults were.
Zoee's mother Katrina Norman said they heard screaming and ran down to the shore to see what had happened.
"We all stood there screaming for him and there was just no sign of him," she said, adding when emergency crews arrived and couldn't find Desfosses, they knew he was gone.
Desfosses and his niece had a close relationship.
"He was there when I was pregnant and pretty much every day we were over there. They made cupcakes. They went swimming. They had picnics," said Norman.
She described Desfosses as a hilarious guy with a good heart.
"Always there for everybody who needed him," she said.
Watson said it could have easily been him that day and he urges everyone to wear a life jacket when out on the water
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