RCMSAR Shuswap Station’s vessel is moored at Hungry Cove where another vessel

Rescue effort earns recognition

Attending fatal boating incident a traumatic experience.

Sicamous marine search and rescue volunteers have been recognized for their response to a fatal boating incident at Hungry Cove.

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Shuswap Station 106 station leader Rob Sutherland says two of the station’s crews have been nominated for the Canadian Safe Boating Council Rescue of the Year award. The nomination is for the crews’ two-day rescue effort in response to a boating collision on Aug. 17 in Hungry Cove.

The collision is reported to have occurred on Aug. 16 at approximately 11:30 p.m. The boat is said to have left the floating restaurant at Cinnemousun Narrows at around 9 p.m. and was returning to Sicamous. While rounding Hungry Cove, the boat turned to port to miss a houseboat, and wound up crashing into a rock cliff at full speed. Darryl John Johnston of Calgary was thrown into the water, while a second man was thrown into the boat, sustaining neck and back injuries in the process. He stayed in the boat for the night and, in the morning, was able to flag down a passing vessel.

Shuswap Station 106 was paged at 8:38 a.m. on the 17th, and a crew consisting of Sutherland, Barbara Birch, John Lahaie and Dave Harvey responded.

“It was amazing that the boat still floated with the amount of damage to it…,” says Sutherland, noting two dogs that were also on the vessel had been thrown from the boat uninjured.

“We found the survivor standing in obvious shock and pain and he was treated by both RCMSAR members and BCAS (BC Ambulance Service), then packaged up and transferred to our boat while two other station members did a quick search for the second person onshore, thinking he may have left the boat and tried to go for help,” says Sutherland. “With nothing but debris and two dogs found on shore, we left taking the injured man back to Sicamous to a waiting helicopter and he was air lifted to Kelowna.”

After dropping off the injured man, the rescue crew returned to the scene to search for Johnston. This involved a detailed shore search to see if the man had walked away. RCMP soon arrived and, when it was determined Johnston wasn’t on the shore, police conducted an air search. Again, nothing was found. Plans were made for the following day involving a police dive team.

On Aug. 18, a Shuswap Station crew consisting of Jamie Brigman, Barbara Birch, Fred Duck and Mary-Anne Easton met and briefed the dive team before returning to the scene.

“The divers were only in the water for about 20 minutes and found the body, placed him in a body bag and he was loaded in our boat,” says Sutherland. “Our Coxswain knew the person so he identified the body for the RCMP and then we took him back to Sicamous where we met the coroner, who took him to Salmon Arm.”

A tow company retrieved the damaged vessel as well as the dogs. Sutherland reports the survivor is doing well. As for the rescue crew, one of the attending volunteers had to receive counselling for critical incident stress.

“That person has a planned follow-up session and I have talked to her a couple of times already and she seems to be doing OK,” says Sutherland. “She has been removed from the call-out list until given clearance by the counsellor.”

The award ceremony, hosted by the Canadian Safe Boating Council, takes place Jan. 15 in Toronto.


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