The crew on the MV Osprey 2000 made quick work of a rescue after a woman in her mid-30s jumped off the ferry in the middle of Kootenay Lake on Wednesday evening.
The incident happened on the 6:10 p.m. run from Balfour to Kootenay Bay.
“You can’t fall off the Osprey,” said Western Pacific Marine regional manager Bryan Coe. “The assumption our crew made was that she thought she could swim, but we were midpoint.”
The woman had to make it over two restraining lines to get to the edge of the ship. She hopped off on the stern end of the ferry.
“Once she hit that lake, my guess is that she had a mind-altering experience,” said Coe.
The crew of six on the Osprey was quick to react. Coe said the Osprey was going about 16 knots (47 km/h) at the time the non-local woman jumped. Though the ferry has an ability to do a crash stop, the captain instead slowed the ship down and the crew accessed the zodiac rescue boats. Coe said the rescue only took about four minutes.
Because the Osprey was mid-point on its run, the MV Balfour was also in the immediate vicinity. That ferry was also stopped and the crew from that ship boarded the zodiac rescue boats to help, but the situation was under control by the Osprey crew.
By chance there was a BC Ambulance crew on board heading over to Kootenay Bay. Once aboard the Osprey, the woman was treated by the paramedics and once they arrived to Kootenay Bay the situation was handed over to the RCMP.
“The report is very complimentary to the crew’s speed and efficiency, and it had a happy ending,” said Coe, adding that three of the six Osprey crew that night were female, including the captain. “The crew has every right to be proud of the way they handled it.”
The fact that the lake was calm and the incident happened during the evening hours helped with the positive outcome.
“The news was that it was a daylight operation. If had to happen, this was the best-case scenario,” said Coe, adding that if there were whitecaps on the lake it would have been much more difficult. “As situations go, it worked out well.”
Coe has been at the Kootenay post of Western Pacific Marine for the last 17 months. Prior to his move he spent 38 years with BC Ferries on the coast where man-overboard situations happened regularly. A captain himself, Coe said though the crews all train for the scenario, it’s a rare occurrence in these parts.
The last incident on Kootenay Lake happened in August 2010 when a man jumped off the Osprey as it pulled out of Balfour on its 9:40 p.m. run. Though the crew launched rescue boats at the time, the man refused help. The foot passenger swam to shore and then ran away.
A similar incident on the Harrop ferry happened during the summer of 2008 when a woman jumped over and swam to shore.
Coe couldn’t speculate on the woman’s motivations for jumping off the ship, but said it’s always a terrible idea.
“The beach might have looked a lot closer when she thought about it,” he said.