A 40-year-old Campbell River man is lucky to be alive after his kayak overturned in the water just off Willow Point on Friday evening.
Multiple 911 calls were received around 6:30 p.m. about a man yelling for help about 500 metres offshore from Ken Forde Park.
Campbell River RCMP responded immediately to the area and a distress call was relayed to boaters in the area through the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria.
A witness at the scene quickly went home, brought back an inflatable boat and then rowed out to the man in distress. Campbell River RCMP Const. Kyle Ushock also helped in the rescue as he swam out to the pair and assisted the return to shore.
“The witness who brought out the boat is to be commended…we’ll be recommending him for a life-saving award,” said Const. Peter Wise.
The 40-year-old man was transported to Campbell River hospital where he was treated for hypothermia and police say he had had been drinking alcohol before he overturned and spent 45 minutes in the cold water.
Investigation revealed the male was alone, wearing a black personal floatation device (PFD) and blue jeans, and had no other safety equipment on-board.
“Without a doubt, the PFD saved his life. He was exhausted when we reached shore,” said Ushock.
The kayak was recovered later by volunteers from the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue. The kayak was not appropriate to ocean use and was an open style hard plastic recreational design.
“This is a story of how a lack of preparation mixed with alcohol nearly cost a man his life,” said Wise. “The man had nothing but his voice to alert people to his situation. He didn’t plan on his kayak flipping and did not bring any of the mandated safety equipment except the PFD. The Campbell River RCMP would like to remind people to please pay attention to basic safety requirements and use care around the water.”