A Nelson man who tried to save a friend’s dog was himself rescued from Kokanee Creek Sunday after two hours perched on a log.
RCMP say around 2 p.m. the man, 45, was on the old growth trail accessible off Kokanee Glacier Road, when his friend’s Pomeranian poodle fell off a bridge.
He entered the water to go after it but was swept downstream.
“Despite the extreme current, the man miraculously managed to pull himself up onto a log,” Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel says.
Nelson Search and Rescue was contacted and dispatched a four-person swift water team.
Search manager Scott Spencer says the man was in the middle of the creek, and other hikers in the area tried to get to him.
“I think they got a blanket out to him and a piece of rope, but it was still putting them in danger,” Spencer says.
When the swift water team arrived, they set up a tethering system and entered the creek at a relatively calm and shallow point.
“It’s not that often that we find someone who’s managed to pull themselves to safety and hang on until we get there,” Spencer says.
They waded out and carried him back to shore, where a stretcher and paramedics were waiting. The man had been in the creek for two hours.
He was taken to hospital with advanced hypothermia, and is reportedly in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.
“I believe he had a broken arm, lacerations, and bumps and bruises,” the RCMP’s Seibel says. “He was in the water long enough and the current’s strong enough that he’s lucky.”
The dog remains missing.
Seibel says while the rescue was successful, “this situation could have and often does have a far less positive outcome.”
Police and search and rescue say people should use extreme caution when hiking during high water, and take precautions to keep pets from falling in. If it does happen, they urge people not to go after them.
“You’re putting your life on the line and if someone tries to rescue you, their lives as well,” Seibel says. “On average, dogs have a better chance then humans of surviving a fall into swift water.”