Two Fraser Valley fishermen are lucky to be alive, police say, thanks to two volunteers who helped pull them from the Fraser River after their canoe capsized Sunday near Gill Road.
“This was very much a coordinated effort between the First Nations policing unit, our general duty members, and of course the two heroes involved,” RCMP Const. Tracy Wolbeck.
The two volunteers pulled the fishermen from the icy waters, just as their capsized canoe was pulled under a log jam by the river’s current.
Neither fishermen had a lifejacket, and they had been hanging onto the canoe to stay afloat as it drifted about 10 kilometres from where it capsized near Gill Road.
Police officers responding to the incident asked two fishermen at the Jesperson boat launch to use their boat, instead of waiting for the RCMP boat to arrive.
“After 20 minutes of searching, the fishermen spotted the two men hanging onto their capsized canoe, heading directly for a log jam,” Wolbeck said.
“These two men would likely not be alive today had it not been for the unselfish act of these two volunteers,” she said.
Both fishermen were treated for hypothermia at Chilliwack General Hospital and later released.
Police are reminding everyone to wear an approved flotation device anytime they venture out on area lakes and rivers.
“It is impossible to predict when disaster may strike,” Wolbeck said, “and it is essential to plan for the unexpected.”
She said the Canada Day long weekend was a busy one for RCMP in the Upper Fraser Valley.
“Several alcohol-related offences crammed Chilliwack’s detachment cell block, as well as many motor vehicle accidents both in town and on the highways,” she said.