View of Hope looking eastbound. (Jenna Hauck/ Black Press file)

Drowning man plucked from Fraser River by alert boaters

Hope resident screamed for help as man carried swiftly down river

Keen eyes and quick actions saved a man who was “maybe a minute” from drowning in the Fraser River in Hope Saturday afternoon.

The young man was a part of a large party gathered at the Rotary Trail along the river, where the Coquihalla River meets the larger body of water. Hope resident Randy Young noticed a couple of young men heading to the water’s edge.

It wasn’t long before the first man into the water swam out too far and got swept away.

“He swam out maybe 20 to 25 feet before he was swept down river and out deeper to the middle of the river,” Young recalls. “He was trying to swim back but could not. The river is just too fast.”

The picnic and swim turned dangerous quickly.

“Within seconds all you could see was his head,” Young adds. “His buddy was running after him on the rocks but could not keep up with him.”

Young knew there was a charter boat out on the water so he ran in its direction, screaming that there was a man in the water.

“They quickly responded and flew down the river to get him,” Young says. A First Nations fishing boat also appeared and both boats raced to the man to pull him out. Young says he isn’t sure which boat reached the man first, and who pulled him out. But, he adds, the danger wasn’t even over yet.

One of the boats the assisted was from Great River Fishing Adventures.

He had already called 911, and quite luckily as it turns out. A friend of the man who was being rescued rushed into the water himself, and as the RCMP officer arrived on scene he was able to race after the man and talk him out of the knee-deep water safely.

Young says most people in the area should know by now not to attempt to swim in the Fraser River. But he’s hoping to share the story to spread further awareness of the dangers that can come from such activities.

“Please if you see anyone close to the Fraser let them know the danger of trying to swim in it,” he said. “It should be common sense but for some they are lacking in that department. The man was rescued by one of the boats but was so lucky that they were in the water — he was maybe a minute from drowning.”

The man had been in the water for up to three minutes and traveled about 1,500 feet west.

Young said he “just felt so helpless and was thinking of all the times that there is no one on the water.

“He would have been gone.”

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