Two out-of-town boaters are safe thanks to an after-dark intervention by a Castlegar-area resident.
Local realtor Tyler Gienger was at his riverfront home in Ootischenia when a friend called around 9:30 p.m. Friday night (July 7) and told him there were some boaters missing on the Columbia River.
The report was that a father and son had flipped over a boat near the Kinnaird Bridge and that no one knew where they were.
Gienger owns a boat that was tied up to a dock on his property so he grabbed a friend, turned on the boat’s lights and headed for the bridge.
He spotted a police officer along the shore line and was told the boat had flipped about 25 minutes prior.
Gienger then proceeded further down river and spotted a light on some rocks on the shoreline. There he found the two men clinging to their their flat-bottom fishing boat.
Gienger said the men were not wearing life jackets and were quite cold.
Water levels in the Columbia River fluctuate frequently leaving rocks under the bridge closer to the surface at certain times.
“Right now the rocks are just barely exposed,” says Gienger. “They hit the rocks, not knowing where to go, not being from here.”
The boat became high-centered on the rocks and when the men got out of the boat to try to dislodge it, the current caught the boat and flipped it.
“They were just latched on to the boat, floating with it for quite a ways before it caught in a back eddy and ended up on shore,” said Gienger.
“They didn’t know where they were, but luckily one of the guys had a cell phone.”
The rescuers helped the men tie up their capsized boat and then brought them back to Gienger’s property where first responders were waiting.
The next morning, Gienger and the men went back and flipped the boat over. There was damage to the steering column and the engine cover was missing, so Gienger then towed it back to a launch.