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

Campbell River Christmas Hamper Fund depot now open

In December 2017, 1,142 Christmas Hampers were assembled and then delivered to… Continue reading

After almost two years of delays, Sybil Andrews graphic novel launches this weekend

‘Seeing the final product here on my desk, I can tell you it’s been worth the wait’

Long-awaited Campbell River mountain bike park close to beginning ‘Phase 1’

‘There seems to be a disconnect between where it’s at and where people think it’s at’

Campbell River’s ‘school of hack’ gives kids inside computing edge

Teachers take ‘hacking’ back to its roots with school program

UPDATED: Man survived for ‘days’ trapped in smashed truck north of Campbell River

Duncan Moffat, 23, found by hunter beside Hwy. 19 near Sayward

VIDEO: People with diabetes meet their alert dogs

A diabetic alert dog is trained to detect low blood sugar in people who have Type 1 diabetes

Ten-year sentence for man convicted of B.C. belt-strangling death

Shayne McGenn guilty of manslaughter in 2016 death of David Delaney, 63

Roy Clark, country singer, ‘Hee Haw’ star, has died

Guitar virtuoso died because of complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla. He was 85.

Lack of funding, culture on campus biggest barriers for Indigenous students: report

Report based on nearly 300 responses found lack of support at post-secondary schools a big concern

Tinder sex assault suspect charged; additional alleged victims sought

Vincent Noseworthy of Alberta is accused of aggravated sexual assault, unlawful confinement and more

Drug-related deaths double for B.C. youth in care, advocate says

Teens say positive connections with adults key to recovery

Oyster River Fire Rescue qualifies for improved water supply service

Oyster River Fire Rescue has successfully qualified for Superior Tanker Shuttle Service.… Continue reading

Children’s strawberry-flavoured medicines recalled due to faulty safety cap

Three different acetaminophen syrups part of nationwide recall

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

Most Read