First responders assisted a group of tubers, floating down the Puntledge River Thursday in Courtenay. Photo by Terry Farrell

VIDEO: Tubers stuck on Courtenay’s Puntledge River

It was a harrowing afternoon for a group of tubers, floating down the Puntledge River on Thursday, July 5.

The foursome – presumably a family – veered left when they should have veered right, and ended up clinging to the branches of a large, fallen shore-side tree, in a fast-flowing area of the river.

By the time first responders arrived on scene, one of the four had managed to get to shore, with three others – including a toddler-aged child – still in the water.

“We got a called about four swimmers in the river. When we arrived on scene, we had visuals of three of the four, attached to a tree,” said Greg Lamb, of the Courtenay Fire Department. “We were able to make contact to the RCMP through a cellphone which the fourth swimmer had, [who was] on shore.”

“What looked like what happened, is there’s an island down the middle of the river, and most people go down the right side, and they actually took the left side,” said Ashley Birley, who witnessed the incident unfold. “It’s shallow, but the river is running pretty fast right now, so I could see how [it could happen]… the little girl looked very young.”

Of the three still in the water when first responders arrived, the toddler was the only one wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).

All members of the party eventually managed to get themselves out of the water, at which point they were met by first responders and led along the shoreline to safety.

Paul Berry of Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue said that while the situation played out rather innocuously, it could have been a tragic outcome.

“The four individuals were swept off their inner tube and felt that they were trapped in the river, so at that point the call was made for a rescue,” he said. “It [turned out] relatively benign, but given the water levels and given the amount of debris in the river, this is a situation that could have played out very, very differently.

“Even in flows like this, with the amount of logs and things that we have in the river, it’s very possible for someone to get trapped against that, and not to be able to get off. And in the water you only have a few minutes.”

He added that while it was good to see the toddler was wearing a PFD, it’s dangerous for anyone to travel down the river without proper protection.

“Great to see this young girl did have a life-jacket on – the outcome could have been very different had she not – but we want people to be safe. We know that the Puntledge is used regularly, so a good-quality inner tube… going in groups, and making sure that they are being as safe as they possibly can.”

Just Posted

Isles end 2018 in fine form, excited for 2019

Kerry Park wins last home and road games before Christmas break

VIDEO: Shawnigan Alliance Church actors present ‘The Journey of the Wise’

One of a trilogy of plays showing different aspects of the Nativity, the show drew a big crowd.

Police incident reported on Cowichan River Bridge

Traffic going across the Cowichan River Bridge at about 1 p.m. on… Continue reading

Boat sinks in Cow Bay leaving sheen of pollution

Coast Guard responds, but finds only one vessel that required assistance

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Bear cubs try to take Vancouver Island woman’s Christmas cookies

Incident happened in the early-morning hours today, Dec. 18, in Nanaimo

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Most Read