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Pair rescued after boat capsizes on Kootenay Lake

Two Cranbrook men are lucky to have been found within a few hours after their boat overturned on Kootenay Lake on Saturday evening. - Nelson Star file photo
Two Cranbrook men are lucky to have been found within a few hours after their boat overturned on Kootenay Lake on Saturday evening.
— image credit: Nelson Star file photo

Search crews rescued two Cranbrook men whose boat overturned at Pilot Bay Saturday evening.

Nelson Search and Rescue manager Craig Gutwald didn’t know the exact circumstances that led to the craft capsizing but said the two 25-year-olds were found on shore. They were cold and wet, but otherwise all right, and were released after being checked out by BC Ambulance attendants.

“They were very fortunate to have a witness in another boat who saw it happen,” Gutwald says. “He saw them make it to shore with their dog but wasn’t able to actually help them because of rough water.”

The witness lost sight of the men in the darkness — they didn’t have flashlights and couldn’t start a fire — but he yelled at them to look for a path that would come around to Sawmill Bay.

He then called RCMP, who in turn tried to dispatch Creston Search and Rescue, but no one was available. Gutwald says Nelson Search and Rescue was called at about 6:50 p.m.

They sent a rescue boat and crew along with a ground team that set up at the Balfour ferry terminal.

“We didn’t know if they were trying to walk through the darkness or stay by the water,” Gutwald says. “One issue I was grappling with was were these locals who lived on the Crawford Bay side and just went home?”

Nine searchers were involved from Nelson. People were also called in from Castlegar, Kaslo, South Columbia, Cranbrook and Kimberley, but were turned around once the boat crew located the men at about 9:30 p.m.

Gutwald says no one reported the men missing. “It’s really critical that people leave some sort of trip plan, advising where they’re going and when they’re expected back,” he says.

Gutwald wasn’t sure what the men were doing on the choppy waters. He didn’t know if their boat struck something before it overturned.

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