442 Squadron SAR Tech Master Cpl. Alexandre Demers prepares to hoist a stranded swimmer up to a helicopter after the girl struck the log while inner tubing on the Quinsam River.

Stranded swimmer hoisted off log in the Campbell River

RCMP called in 442 Search and Rescue Squadron who were on scene within minutes

A child trapped on a log in the Campbell River Thursday afternoon was rescued by 442 Search and Rescue Squadron.

“The river current was very strong preventing anyone from reaching the girl,” said Const. Peter Wise of the Campbell River RCMP.

RCMP called in 442 Search and Rescue Squadron who were on scene within minutes, plucking the girl from a log in the middle of the river channel.

The girl is a tourist from Germany and was tubing with her family. Witnesses reported the group struck the tree and were dumped into the water. The other children reached shore while the child remained trapped on the log.

Luckily, the 442 Squadron Cormorant crew at CFB Comox was nearby doing readiness training.

“We were on scene in 20 minutes,” said Capt. Luc Coates, aircraft commander. “We flew up the river and spotted her very easily. She was wearing a red life-jacket and there were many anglers in the area alerting us.”

Once overhead, Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) MCpl. Alexandre Demers was hoisted down from a height of 200 feet.

“She was very calm, despite speaking only German,” said MCpl. Demers. “The Flight Engineer [Warrant Officer Phillipe Robin] did a great job of hoisting me down right next to the log. I did my best to explain what was going to happen, put the rescue collar on her and we were hoisted up quickly.”

Once on board, the helicopter flew to the Campbell River Airport, where the young girl was transferred to BC Ambulance as a precaution.

Lead RCMP investigator Const. Ian Gammie said, “fortunately the child was wearing a PFD.” The current around the tree formed a very dangerous undertow and otherwise the child would have been trapped.

The tree, or “strainer”, had been previously reported as a hazard by Campbell River Ground Search and Rescue in local media.

The high water level was also reported by BC Hydro throughout July. Campbell River RCMP are reminding the public of the danger posed by swift moving water.

But 442 Squadron didn’t have much time to rest.

As the helicopter was refueling in Campbell River, JRCC Victoria received a distress call from a group of hikers on Golden Hinde, in Strathcona Provincial Park.

The hikers had activated their emergency beacon on Vancouver Island’s highest mountain, indicating that one of them had fallen and required evacuation from a cliff face at an altitude of 5,000 feet.

The helicopter arrived in the area at approximately 4:30 p.m.

“An RCMP helicopter was already in the area and they were able to tell us where the hikers were,” said Capt. Coates. “It saved us a lot of time and made things really efficient.”

Despite the spray from a nearby waterfall obscuring the crew’s view, the two SAR Techs and a rescue litter were hoisted onto the mountainside.

“The hiker had fallen about 45 feet down a steep snow slope. The hiker’s friends had done a good job of treating the injuries and it really helped us out,” said Sgt. Robin Richardson, SAR Tech. “We put the patient in the litter and hoisted him out.”

The two other hikers were also hoisted off the mountain. The injured hiker was brought to 19 Wing, CFB Comox and transferred into the care of BC Ambulance in stable condition.