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

Drag racing open house attracts 200-plus in Campbell River

Proponents still need to provide more information to the City

Interested in opening a cannabis store? City to process applications through provincial referral

People interested in opening a retail cannabis outlet should get their paperwork… Continue reading

Campbell River’s advisory committee restructuring questioned

A group made up of 10 local non-profit agencies had serious concerns… Continue reading

Cortes Island to identify potential industrial land

Process will look long-term at updating OCP for the island

VIDEO: Campbell River residents go underground at John Hart generating station

About 1,250 people expected at sold-out tour on Sunday

VIDEO: Deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

Pot, cash, mansions: Judge divvies up illegal estate of divorcing B.C. couple

The Smiths ran a multi-million marijuana operation that spanned three counties

‘Little Feet’ book documents B.C. woman’s horrific 2001 accident

Heather Williams has documented the two profound stages beforeand after the accident

Most Read