A man was soaked and suffering from mild hypothermia when he was finally plucked from a stranded boat on the Fraser River this weekend.
He’d spent the night on a 14-foot fibreglass runabout that was spotted floating near a small log boom near the 19800 block of River Road just before 6 a.m. on Sunday, explained search manager Rick Laing, with the Ridge Meadows Search & Rescue.
The initial emergency call came in that a man was hanging onto a log in the water, he said. That proved false.
When Laing arrived on scene ahead of the rest of his team, he could easily see from the shore that the man was actually inside a boat. But, he was non-responsive to police and paramedics calling from the shoreline of the Katzie First Nation’s reserve.
The swift water rescue team was already at the search hall in Albion, preparing to depart for a course in Vancouver Sunday morning, when the call came in, Laing noted.
That facilitated a quicker and larger response than normal, he added, noting 12 members were deployed in the team’s inflatable Zodiac from the McKay Street wharf while the large rescue boat was put into the water from the float plane launch in Pitt Meadows.
Less than an hour after the initial report came in, rescuers had boarded the small boat, determined the man was conscious, transferred him to the rescue boat, and taken him safely to shore – where he was handed over to paramedics for treatment.
The boat was then towed downstream, Laing said, to the wharf near the Katzie reserve. Arrangements were made for the owner to pick it up from there, Laing said.
Practice turned real
What started out as a practise session last Wednesday night also turned into a rescue for the local search team.
This time, the group was preparing to head up Pitt Lake with two boats and a hovercraft when they learned a couple was stranded on a jet ski.
The team was preparing to leave the boat launch at Grant Narrows when a boater pulled up to the dock and advised them two of their friends were still up on the lake, but had run out of gas.
Their exact location was unclear, and with the sun setting, rescuers were anxious to get onto the lake and find them, said deputy team manager Al Leonard.
“We decided to focus on that area initially with a high-speed search, trying to take advantage of the rapidly failing daylight,” he said.
When that failed, they started a shoreline search, and discovered the man and woman – both in their 20s – drifting on the ski between Goose Island and Raven Creek.
“As we were searching the Raven Creek area shoreline, one of our members thought he heard a voice. We shut down the engines and then could clearly hear people calling. It took a few moments to determine that the voices were coming from on the lake rather than the shoreline so we turned around and headed back up the lake, Leonard recounted.
A short time later the missing people were found and brought onboard. Their lame jet ski was towed back to Grant Narrows.
“Both subjects were tired and a bit chilled but otherwise in good shape,” Leonard said. “Fortunately, the weather was as good as it was.”
Laing added that the woman confessed she was preparing to jump in the water and attempt to swim to shore. He was grateful she didn’t, noting that Pitt Lake is a tidal lake with dangerous undercurrents and notoriously high winds that can make manoeuvring the waterway hazardous for boaters and swimmers alike.
“The boaters were definitely not prepared for an unplanned evening on the water,” Leonard added.
In addition to the two water rescues in the past week, five members of the local team also spent upwards of 10 hours Saturday assisting in the search for a missing 64-year-old Alzheimer’s patient in Coquitlam, to no avail.
@ Copyright 2013