'Poor soul': witness describes moment she discovered woman's body in Rideau River
Ottawa Police investigators are trying to determine if the death of a woman found face-down in the Rideau River near a Lowertown park is suspicious or a tragic case of misadventure.
"We don’t know if this is related to foul play," says Ottawa Police Constable Chuck Benoit, “we’re not at that stage yet.”
City of Ottawa ‘needle hunter’ Ashley Shody, along with one of her colleagues, made the gruesome discovery in Bordeleau Park around 9am Monday.
“He checked the shoreline, discovered a body and looked at me and said I think we should call 9-1-1,” Shody told CTV Ottawa.
Located near the hub of downtown Ottawa homeless shelters, Bordeleau Park is nestled along the Rideau River, at the corner of King Edward Avenue and Cathcart Street. As part of Ottawa’s Causeway Program, Shody, picks-up drug paraphernalia, mostly used needles, in city parks, like Bordeleau, and on city streets on a regular basis, “we just try to get them off the streets so that none of the children have to see that especially in parks.”
While checking the shoreline for needles, the pair found a woman’s body floating face down in about four-feet of water, “my first instinct was poor soul,” said Shody, “it’s not every day that you see something like that.”
Ottawa Police investigators arrived quickly and cordoned off the area. Two members of the Ottawa Police dive-unit then waded in the water to retrieve the body just after noon.
“Right now we are able to confirm it is a female, but we don’t have an identity,” Benoit told CTV Ottawa.
Police also found a bike nearby and a sleeping bag and pillow along the shoreline, just feet from where the body was discovered. It’s not known yet if those items belonged to the victim.
Nearby residents, like Louise and Christine Longtin, say Bordeleau Park is often used by drug addicts and the city’s homeless. Men and women are commonly found sleeping on park benches, behind trees, bushes and along the shoreline.
“It’s too bad, it’s such a beautiful place and we’re afraid to even walk our dogs now,” says Louise Longtin.
Shody says the horrifying discovery is now cemented in her head, “I still can’t wrap my mind around it. I hope the police can do their jobs and they’ll figure out what’s going on. There is a family out there that is missing this person somewhere.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Ottawa Police at 613.236.1222.