Rescue boat called out for capsized canoe

The KBRF services rescue boat was called into action to deal with a canoe that had run into trouble on the Columbia River near Trail.

The Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire services rescue boat was called into action again Tuesday afternoon to deal with a canoe that had run into trouble on the Columbia River near Trail.

Deputy Regional Fire Chief, Dan Derby, was on his way home from work when he noticed a canoe that appeared to be out of control and people in the water in the rapids at Rock Island.

As Derby was calling the apparent emergency into the station, 911 calls began coming in reporting the same incident.

Police and fire services responded, launching the rescue boat to deal with the situation.

A family of five in a canoe had gotten caught in a large whirlpool at Rock Island on the Columbia, pulling one end of the vessel under and causing the capsize.

All members of the family, who were wearing life jackets, managed to pull the canoe to the west bank of the river across from Home Hardware where they collected their gear and emptied the canoe of water, re-loaded their cargo, and paddled across the river to meet with emergency personnel near the Columbia Valley Greenhouse, confirming that no one was harmed and everything was alright.

The family was in the middle of an extended canoe trip travelling from Valemont, at the northern tip of the Kootenays, to Astoria, Oregon, where the Columbia empties into the Pacific Ocean.

Regional Fire Chief, Terry Martin, said the canoeists appear to have underestimated the rapids at Rock Island leading to the capsize of their boat.

“Rock Island can be dangerous if you’re not aware of what you’re getting into,” he said. “People who know the river know to follow the navigation markers to travel safely. People really should research the river before setting out.”

Although this is the third time in as many weeks that the rescue boat has been called out on the river,  Martin says that they aren’t unusually busy for this time of year.

“We have had the one unfortunate incident recently in Trail that we were called out for,” he said. “But mostly we’ve been out the last few days doing patrols and searches. We haven’t been called out more than is usual for this time of year.”

In addition to the emergency calls the rescue services have been called out for they have also been involved in the search for 28-year-old, Andrew Evans, who has been missing since entering the river while evading the RCMP last week.

The Fire and Rescue services is also part of the search for 25-year-old, Lyle Lamont, who has been missing from Castlegar since Sunday.

Martin pointed out that the rescue boat will be on the river in the next few days but that the public doesn’t have to be concerned.

“If people notice the boat on the water it’s not necessarily a rescue in progress,” Martin said. “We will be continuing searching the river for the two missing persons.”

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