On Sunday April 30, 2017 at 8:51 pm, Fort St. James RCMP responded to a 911 call from a female who said she and her boyfriend were in a boat on Stuart Lake north of Paarens Beach and the engine had quit and they could not paddle to shore. The situation was exasperated by the fact the female was pregnant and her cell phone would only allow emergency calls out and was losing battery power.
Fort St. James RCMP have a Titan rigid hull inflatable boat to respond to distress calls, however the boat was not yet in the water for the spring and the water levels were low at the boat launches. The Fort St. James RCMP does have a jet boat and the responding officers began getting that boat ready for the operators to arrive from home. A short time later, she called back again saying the waves were picking up and they were getting cold and their 12 foot boat was taking on water. No other rescue boats were available to assist so police had to hustle.
Officers headed out in the jet boat toward a white light in the distance, arriving just in time, as the male and female’s boat had caught a large wave and capsized and they were clinging to the submerged vessel’s bow. Both were rescued out of the water and transported to Cottonwood Park to a waiting ambulance. RCMP officers carried the two out of the water and to the waiting ambulance where they were transported to Stuart Lake Hospital and treated for hypothermia.
Neither boater had life jackets and had they not had access to a cell phone to make the 911 calls, the situation would have had a very different outcome.
“The quick efforts and teamwork of the Fort St. James RCMP officers both on duty and called out from home to operate the marine vessel, directly contributed to ensuring this couple was rescued. They saved their lives.” Says Sgt. Poppy Hallam, Operations, Fort St. James Detachment.