Five people in three kayaks were rescued after they overturned in the Kootenay River near Skookumchuck on Saturday afternoon. Search and Rescue Teams were activated by the Emergency Coordination Center after receiving a report of persons needing assistance. Kimberley RCMP, Police Dog Service and BC Ambulance were also involved in the call out.
The call for assistance was received Saturday, May 30 at 2:30 pm after the kayaks overturned in the swift water. Two persons were able to safely get to shore and call for help. Two others managed to make it to shore downstream and one was missing. Nine SAR members from Kimberley and Cranbrook were involved. With the variable conditions of the river two SAR members conducted an assessment with a helicopter. Two subjects were spotted and safely removed. The third subject was spotted and after transporting the other subjects to a waiting ambulance they were able to go back and safely pick up the last subject.
Two of the subjects had minor injuries. The results could have been tragic for all involved but the risk was significantly greater for one person who was pinned against a log jam by the flowing water for a period of time. Of the five only two were wearing life jackets.
“Fortunately this incident ended well thanks to the combined efforts of our Search and Rescue volunteers, Kimberley RCMP, Police Dog team, BC Ambulance and Big Horn Helicopters,” said Cpl. Newel of Kimberley RCMP. “This could have been tragic and people need to recognize the risks and hazards associated to these types of activities.”
Police and other emergency agencies would like to remind people that with recent heavy rain the water levels have risen considerably. Rivers can be dangerous — they may appear smooth but there are deceptively turbulent undercurrents below the surface and it is relentless in power.