Two elderly men were pulled safely from Kootenay Lake shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday after their boat capsized.
Nelson residents Cory Scanlon and stepson Braeden McRae, 15, were fishing underneath the orange bridge when they saw “some commotion” on the north side of the lake, below Amanda’s Restaurant.
“We didn’t really know what was going on,” Scanlon said. “We raced over and pulled them out. It was crazy.”
They didn’t initially hear any cries of distress, but later made out very faint calls for help.
“We were fishing away and concentrating on what we were doing. But things didn’t look right. I said ‘What’s going on over there?’ My son said ‘I think that boat’s upside down.’”
McRae said they untied their fishing boat and sped across to discover one man sitting on top of the small overturned vessel and another hanging onto the back handles. They’d been in the water about five minutes.
“It was kind of hard getting them in with all their wet clothes,” McRae said. “We got the heater going and tied our boat to theirs so we could drag it back. Then we heard voices above us — the police yelling to ask if they needed an ambulance.”
Neither, however, required medical treatment. The men, one 82 and the other in his mid-70s, were from Six Mile. It appears they were trying to untie their boat from the bridge when it flipped.
Both Scanlon, the co-owner of Western Auto Wreckers, and McRae have previous experience in water rescues.
In 2008, Scanlon and tow truck assistant Jay Juniper were on Highway 6 at Summit Lake when they spotted a car in the water at night. They swam out and pulled an unconscious passenger to safety. For his actions, Scanlon was presented with the Order of St. John, a national life-saving award. After the ceremony, he told the Star it was “a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me I’m sure. I don’t see that happening again.”
But after this week’s effort, he was dumbfounded at his knack for being in the right place at the right time: “I couldn’t believe it. I phoned my wife and said ‘Guess what? It happened again.’”
McRae, meanwhile, was boating near Silverton last summer with his father and a friend when they heard someone cry for help. They saw a man “holding on for dear life” to a flipped-over kayak about 50 feet away and pulled him from the choppy waters of Slocan Lake.
McRae said while he and Scanlon go fishing every weekend, they were actually contemplating not going on Sunday. Lucky they did: the only other person on the water at the time was in a rowboat, so wouldn’t have been able to reach them as quickly.
Grateful for the help, the two men gave their rescuers some fishing hooks. “After they drove away, we went back and fished where they were,” McRae said. “We caught ten fish with the hooks they gave us.”