A Hamilton paramedic who was raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake died Saturday after being found floating in Lake Ontario, off Wilson, N.Y., shortly after setting out on a personal watercraft.
Ria VanNoort, 33, was a paramedic for both the City of Hamilton and Haldimand County Emergency Services
Her parents Sharon and Robert VanNoort are well-known in Virgil, where they operate a flower shop.
Ria VanNoort leaves a six-year-old daughter, Mayla, and her companion Kyle Biloski, with whom she resided in Canfield, Ont.
She was attending a party at a home in Wilson, east of Youngstown, when she apparently fell from the personal watercraft, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Sheriffs received a 911 call just after 6 p.m. on Saturday.
VanNoort was operating the watercraft offshore. Sometime after, partygoers noticed her floating in the water nearby, investigators said.
People at the party loaded her onto another boat and brought her to shore.
After deputies and members of the Wilson and South Wilson volunteer fire departments provided aid to VanNoort, she was taken to Eastern Niagara Lockport Hospital, where she was pronounced deceased, sheriffs said.
The cause of death and details surrounding the incident are still unclear.
Supt. David Thompson of Hamilton Paramedic Services said, “First and foremost, we send our condolences to Ria’s family, friends and loved ones that are coming together to mourn.”
She was a beacon of positivity and happiness, he said.
“She always just wanted to give back and help out. Speaking with her, she loved fundraising and loved her dogs,” Thompson said.
“Her daughter was obviously the most important part of her life,” he added.
A GoFundMe has been set up by John Las to help the family. The majority of the money will go into an account for Mayla’s future.
The Niagara County Sheriff’s criminal investigation bureau said it is continuing its investigation of the incident.