A boy in an overturned kayak and his frightened family were rescued by the help of quick-thinking boaters last Saturday (May 31) in the Harrison River.
According to Mikayla Soderstrom, who had written to the Observer about the incident, a man called out to her boat while in a kayak with two younger children. He said his other son had gone the wrong way down the channel and flipped his kayak.
“With hearing this, we headed up the river to search,” Soderstrom wrote. “We were able to locate him with the help of him blowing his whistle.”
The channel was too rough for the boat, so they called up another friend who was on the beach with a Seadoo. This man, Peter Brodie, was able to get into the area to rescue the boat.
“It was frightening for everyone involved but the real hero that day was Peter Brodie,” Lynne Mazurenko, a friend of both Soderstrom and Brodie, wrote in an email to the Observer.
According to Brodie, he “didn’t give it a second thought.”
“As soon as they said somebody was in trouble, I was all over that.”
In a phone conversation with the Observer, Brodie said the boat had gone to find the boy, but couldn’t get close to him. The boy’s kayak had overturned in a fast-moving channel around a partially-submerged island in the river, and he had pulled himself up onto the island to wait for help.
“He was in a pretty dangerous spot, with really fast moving water, and (his kayak) was upside down where the tree branches were overhanging from the island,” Brodie said. “Where he was standing, there was about a probably eight to 10 foot vertical shelf with undertow.”
Brodie was able to get close to the boy in his Seadoo, and brought him back to his dad.
“He was standing right on the ledge there, crying and shaking,” he said. “So we calmed him down, got him out.”
Once the family was together, Brodie began to tow the kayaks towards Kilby campground. About halfway there, Kent Harrison Search and Rescue (KHSAR) showed up with their specialized Seadoo.
“We transferred the kids over to search and rescue and I took the father on mine,” Brodie said.
“They helped out greatly, getting all the kids on their Seadoos, which are a lot more stable than my little one that I have,” he added. “So it was nice to work with them.”
Mazurenko, Soderstrom and another boater on the water, Loreal Paus, all reached out to the Observer after the paper’s initial story about the event, which attributed the boy’s rescue to Kent Harrison Search and Rescue.
Although KHSAR did arrive on scene and bring the boy back to the beach, all three said the initial rescue was undertaken by the people immediately on the water.
For Brodie, who lives in the area and is quite familiar with that part of the Harrison River, the incident shows how important it is to be prepared.
“Know the water tables and the risks that you’re putting yourself in with high water,” Brodie said. “There’s a lot of hidden logs that are underwater that create major undertow.
“Preferably if you’re going to take children, have a rope attached to them or something so you can keep them out of danger.”
All the children were wearing life jackets in their kayaks, which likely saved the young boy’s life, he said.
“The young kid could have easily been sucked under and not made it,” he said. “The current in that river is extremely strong right now.”