A Bowmanville man has died while training in a water and ice rescue exercise in Hanover, Ont.

Police and fire crews responded to the Saugeen River at 7th Avenue for reports of a male trapped under the ice in the frigid and fast flowing water around 1 p.m. Sunday.

Officials say they worked to locate and rescue the man for 15 minutes before he was freed and rushed to the Hanover and District Hospital by paramedics.

The victim, 30-year-old Adam Robert Brunt of Bowmanville, was reportedly treated at the hospital for several hours before he was pronounced dead.

Police say the preliminary investigation has determined that Brunt was submerged under the ice during a training exercise for ice and water rescue certification.

Brunt, who is enrolled in the firefighter program at Durham College, was training with eleven other students and one instructor at the time of the accident.

The training is a common occurrence in that area of the Saugeen River where the water flow and geography make it a good training experience.

The local fire department has used the area for ice rescue training for years, but was not involved in Sunday's training.

The session was reportedly being run by Herschel Rescue, which lists the training event on its Facebook page.

Terry Harriston, who is listed as the owner of the organization, was charged under the Health and Safety Act in 2010 following the death of a Point Edward firefighter during a similar session on Lake Huron, but was acquitted.

Police are not confirming the identity of the instructor or the company involved, but say it was a private training firm from the Newmarket area.

Hanover police are continuing the investigation with assistance from the Coroner's Office and the Ministry of Labour. 

A post-mortem examination was scheduled to take place on Monday at the London Health Sciences Centre.

The Hanover Police Service continues to interview witnesses and asks that anyone with information contact the investigators at 519-364-2411.

Family, friends reeling

Brunt's girlfriend Jenna McNamee wrote on Twitter shortly after midnight on Monday, "We never in a million years expected this to happen. We are in shock. And the love of my life is gone...You are already so dearly missed."

His mother, Christy Brunt, says being a firefighter "is always what he's wanted to do."

Local firefighters are expressing their condolences, with the Woodstock Fire Department Tweeting "Tragic news out of Hanover today of a Fire students death during a training exercise -thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

The London Professional Firefighters Association Tweeted "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and classmates of the Durham College firefighting student lost while training yesterday."