Canoeist catapulted into Red Deer River
A 67-year-old man from Innisfail was catapulted into the Red Deer River from a canoe on Aug. 8.
The man was paddling with a friend near Markerville when they got caught up in a current around noon downstream of the Dickson Dam, according to Innisfail RCMP.
After clinging to a stationary log for 35 minutes while his companion went for help, he swam to shore and was found by Red Deer County Patrol officer Bob Marsh on Rge. Rd. 14, out of his element but not out of sorts.
“He was very lucid,” said Marsh, adding the man said little at first. “He was just very exhausted from his ordeal in the water. I would say he was probably a little bit hypothermic from being in that river because it’s pretty cold.”
Marsh immediately took him to the temporary command post on the Highway 54 bridge over the Red Deer River.
“There was paramedics waiting for him there and they took good care of him,” Marsh said.
The pair had been camping and fishing along the river, but the male had not been wearing a proper flotation device, according to Innisfail RCMP.
“He did not have his life-jacket,” said Cpl. A.J. Mand. “What people need to do is they need to have life-jackets. Safety is paramount.”
The other man reached a group of campers on the shore who called 911 around 12:45, initiating a broad search and rescue effort led by the RCMP and Innisfail Fire and Rescue.
Marsh worries that too many people may underestimate the risks when using area waterways recreationally.
“There’s lots of submerged timber in the Red Deer River still,” he said, adding water levels are higher than normal right now so spotting dangerous debris can be difficult.
Proper watercraft are also essential for safe recreation, he stressed.
“These people that tend to go down the river in those kiddie rafts are really taking their lives in their hands,” he said.
Mand said good communication between various emergency services was key to the happy ending.
“Any time that we have a disaster or anything like this I think we have good contact and good communication between all the departments,” he said.