Three men who rescued a fishing guide from the Quesnel River on Sept. 20 have been recognized for bravery by the deputy minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Northern Shuswap Tribal Council fisheries technician Andrew Mishue is one of the men, but said the rescue was all about “being in the right place at the right time.”
Mishue and Shane Kalyn, a technician from DFO, were out flying with Highland Helicopters pilot Steve Goodliffe to do a routine Chinook count on the Quesnel River.
“We landed on a sandbar to take off the front door and take the water temperature when we learned there was a guy in the river,” Mishue said Wednesday before he formally accepted the award.
Earlier that morning a fishing guide from Northern Lights Fishing Lodge in Likely had beached a jet boat on the same sandbar, which is located downstream from Quesnel Forks. When the wind picked up, the boat went with it.
As the helicopter landed on the sandbar, an angler from Gabriolo Island ran up and said the guide had gone into the water hoping to retrieve the boat.
He had been in the water almost half an hour and was running into trouble, the angler told them.
“Steve took off with the other guys and he spotted the boat, blew it to shore,” Highland’s base engineer Bruce Jacques said.
“The guy was wearing a life jacket, which was fortunate because that kept him up, so Steve was able to use the same trick with him and use the downwash of the rotor blades and with the current push him to shore.”
By the time the men caught up with the angler they determined he needed to go to the hospital. The water temperature was about 12 degrees.
“He had a dry change of clothes in his boat but he was hypothermic,” Mishue said.
Back in Williams Lake, Jacques received a call on the satellite phone and contacted B.C. Ambulance out of Kamloops.
“I told them we needed an ambulance down here because we had this situation and if it’s not here by the time the machine is here we would drive him to hospital,” Jacques recalled.
The ambulance hadn’t shown up by the time the helicopter landed in Williams Lake, so Jacques jumped in the truck with the rescued man and drove him to Cariboo Memorial Hospital.
Mishue said the award was an unexpected surprise.
Mishue has been working for 15 years as a seasonal worker.
Before presenting Mishue with the award on behalf of the deputy minister, Dave Reedman, assistant resource manager for DFO in Williams Lake, said he was honoured.
While the award recognized Mishue’s role in the rescue, Reedman said he also wanted to recognize Mishue’s efforts on behalf of salmon in his territory, year in and year out.
“I’ve worked with Andrew and known him since the beginning of my career with the department, which is 12 years, and as I’m sure you all know, Andrew’s a dedicated guy and a great person to have out on the river,” he said.
In a written statement, King said he was informed the quick response and action of the three men resulted in a fast retrieval of an individual from the water and prompt medical attention.
“These actions demonstrate an exceptional commitment and dedication to serving the public,” King said.
Commendation awards recognize displays of conspicuous courage and bravery in circumstances of peril.