Surrey angler rescued by father-son team from Chilliwack

A 57-year-old angler from Surrey, swept into the Fraser River last week when his waders filled with water, was going down a third and possibly final time when he was rescued by a Chilliwack man and his son.

A 57-year-old angler from Surrey, swept into the Fraser River last week when his waders filled with water, was going down a third and possibly final time when he was rescued by a Chilliwack man and his son.

“He was just about done,” said Dan Bergmann, who was fishing nearby with his son Luke when he heard “a bunch of screaming” from the crowd of anglers downstream at a popular fishing spot called Peg Leg.

When they got near the drowning man, they tried throwing a rope to him, but when that didn’t work, Luke was able to grab him by the wrist to hold him above water.

“We were yelling at him, ‘Stay with us, don’t let go,’” Bergmann said.

But it was clear to Bergmann that the man was exhausted, with no more will to hang on.

“He was just looking at us, but there was no look of fear or anxiety in his eyes, just ‘I’m done,’” he said. “It was a horrible look.”

Luke wasn’t able to lift the man into the boat, so he held onto him while Dan navigated the boat to the beach on the north side of the river.

The man lay there motionless for about 20 minutes, and then started “heaving up water and stuff,” Bergmann said.

“He told us that he had tried to get his vest off and boots off after he fell into the water,” Bergmann said. But the man was fishing alone, with no friends or family nearby, to help before he was caught in the current.

After resting for about half and hour on the beach, the three men climbed into the boat and headed back to Peg Leg.

“I told him, everybody on shore is going to be clapping and cheering for you because they’re so happy for you,” Bergmann said.

Sure enough, the prediction came true as the crowd of about 100 people broke into applause when they landed.

“It was a really heart-warming sight,” Bergmann said. “When you’re at the mercy of God and all of a sudden you’re cared for by all these people.”

Chilliwack RCMP said this is the third river rescue this summer, all with the potential of being fatal were it not for the “heroic efforts” of people like Bergmann and his 23-year-old son.

“There’s no question these men are absolute heroes,” Const. Tracy Wolbeck said.

Bergmann said there have been other near-drownings at Peg Leg, ironically all of them while fishing from the shore.

“The gravel on the edge is almost slippery,” he said, and when anglers cast a line they sometimes slide into the water, where they can be in big trouble if their waders fill with water.

“People not used to it, they don’t stand back far enough,” he said, and can slide into the river that runs “very fast and very deep” at Peg Leg.

“Once the current has you, it sweeps you away from shore really fast,” he said.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From the Chilliwack Progress Archives: Fearing an Aryan invasion

In 1995, Chilliwack Mayor John Les was concerned about the idea of an ‘Aryan Fest’ coming to town.

Big Bar Landslide saw long awaited blasting this week

Pressure has been on senior governments working with First Nations to remove blockage for months

COLUMN: Trying to look forward while looking back

Reader suggests re-running a 2015 Times column after recent racism towards Indigenous people

Two prolific offenders from Alberta lead RCMP on chase across Fraser Valley

Men first reported in Chilliwack ending with allegedly stolen vehicle in an Abbotsford pond

Chilliwack physiotherapist charged with sexual assault

Mounties urging other potential victims to make contact

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

Most Read