Emergency crews were dispatched to White Rock’s waterfront Thursday afternoon after a kayaker ran into trouble in Semiahmoo Bay.
City officials say the paddler was fortunate firefighters were able to locate and reach the man in short order, as he had no life-jacket and was tiring quickly.
“Certainly, the quick actions of the crew and their response to the situation led to a very positive outcome for something that could have been very tragic,” fire Chief Phil Lemire said Friday.
Fire crews were alerted at 2:15 p.m.
According to a City of White Rock news release, the kayaker was “out past the City of White Rock’s pier when his craft overturned and his attempts to right it failed.”
“As a result, the kayak began to take on water and the individual who was without a life jacket, started to swim towards shore but was becoming exhausted,” the release states.
Lemire said the man told his rescuers that he had set out from the East Beach shoreline – near the Washington Avenue Grill – but ran into rougher water around the breakwater, beyond the pier.
He “got swamped by a wave,” Lemire said.
“It started to take on water and sink, and he was on his own.”
Lemire said emergency crews were alerted by a passerby who heard the kayaker, who had started to swim for shore, yelling for help.
Once his position was pinpointed, two firefighters donned life-jackets and swam “around 500 yards” out to the man with a third life-jacket, and assisted him to shore, Lemire said.
One man who said his out-of-town guests witnessed the incident described the firefighters who swam out as heroes.
“Saved his life I’m sure,” Ian Marks said in an email to Peace Arch News.
Lemire said the kayaker was OK, “other than physically tired.” He was assessed by paramedics at the scene and released.
Lemire described the kayaker as a White Rock resident in his thirties, and said he had a chance to chat with the man while driving him home.
“I said, ‘so, lessons learned?’ He said, ‘oh yeah.’”
Lemire said the incident is a reminder of the importance of being prepared.
“A life-jacket is a requirement on any type of watercraft,” he said. “I think it’s fair enough to say he’s recognized that in this case.”
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