Cowichan River search: man safe, sound

After his boat was found empty on the Cowichan River in the Vimy area, a massive search was launched for a Valley fisherman late Monday afternoon, only to be called off when he appeared on foot in the Glenora area Having been told there were no trees down across the river, the experienced angler and boater had planned to float down to the White Bridge area near Duncan, where he had parked his truck and boat trailer. Unfortunately, he came across a big cottonwood that blocked his way.

He parked his boat and made several attempts to lug it over the tree, but was unsuccessful. He finally gave in and called for help around 1:30 p.m. Among the people he contacted was a friend who works in fisheries and is a member of Cowichan Search and Rescue.

When the friend replied asking if he was in trouble, there was no answer, and SAR was in action soon after.

"By chance, some key members were en route to the hall for routine maintenance and were able to get the vehicles loaded with swift water gear before the actual call-out came," SAR manager Tina Phillips said.

Search teams were sent along the trails on the shore, while two swift water technicians paddled out of the Vimy pools "Putting anyone on the river at night takes serious consideration, but there was a good chance that the fisherman may be hanging on to a log jam and unable to self rescue." Phillips said.

"The boat was discovered quickly and appeared to have been tied off at the log jam. It seemed hopeful that our subject may have walked out."

That was indeed the case, as the search was called off around 6 p.m. when word got the responders that the fisherman had turned up at a residence in Glenora. The Duncan and South End fire departments were also called to assist, setting up lighting at the White Bridge, while fire fighters and SAR personnel waited at the White Bridge to rescue the fisherman should he happen to float that far.

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