Two men and a dog were rescued from the frigid waters of Chimney Lake Thursday night thanks to the quick actions of two local residents.
Charlie Power lives on the north side of the lake and was sitting in his recliner watching the hockey game when he saw a boat leave the shore from his neighbour Lee Voth’s place, two properties down.
“I usually have my binoculars beside me and at around five minutes after seven I looked out,” Power told the Tribune Tuesday. “They were probably half a kilometre out and running the boat too fast.”
Before he could say out loud that he thought the boat was going to capsize, Power saw the bow go up in the air, the boat flip upside down, and he realized the men were in the water.
“My first reaction was to panic,” Power said. “I didn’t know what to do but I said to my wife we had to do something.” Power phoned Voth, but the line was busy, so he ran out, and jumped over two fences to grab him for help.
Quickly the two men ran back to Power’s yard, frantically searching for life jackets. The ice had only been off the lake about four or five days so nobody had their boats out yet, Power said.
“Luckily I had my car topper sitting in the yard.
“It didn’t have the plug in it so we had to put it in and then we finally found some life jackets.”
All the while, out on the lake they could hear the two men screaming and yelling for help.
As Power and Voth began rowing out into the lake, they called out to the two men to hang on, that help was coming.
Within 15 minutes Power and Voth reached the men, but it was so dark they could hardly see them.
“When we got there one fella was hanging onto the hull, the other was hanging onto the transom,” Power said.
“Their pit bull was standing on the top of the boat.”
Power and Voth managed to get one man into the boat, balance the boat, and then Power pulled the second man in.
“I didn’t realize how much strength I have because I’m a small guy,” Power said.
“We got the dog in and then started rowing like crazy. I couldn’t concentrate I was just pumped with adrenalin.”
Suddenly Voth saw a beacon of red light flashing from the shore.
“I told Charlie to start rowing toward it so we could get to the shore and get some blankets,” Voth said.
As they rowed closer they realized it was Chimney Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief Allen Schaad who was holding the beacon.
Several volunteer firefighters and neighbours had also arrived to help.
“We were almost at the shore when I heard the police and ambulance sirens,” Power said. “So by the time the police got to the area we were already at the shore.
“We got one fellow out on his own and Allen guided the ambulance and police to where we were.”
The rescued men were taken by ambulance to Cariboo Memorial Hospital and on Monday one of the rescued men came to Power’s house to thank him.
“I hate the thought of what could have happened if I didn’t have my boat out in the yard,” Power said. “It was scary and something I wouldn’t want to have to go through again.”
Agreeing, Voth said neither of them slept well that night.
“The paramedic said 10 more minutes in the water and one of the guys wouldn’t have made it,” Voth winced as he recalled the incident.
Neither of the rescued men were wearing life jackets.
On Good Friday some of the other neighbours retrieved the overturned boat, Voth said. “They towed it down the lake and tied it to a picnic table.”