Josh Randall said he has many people to thank for being rescued from Chimney Lake when the boat he was in capsized in the middle of the lake the Thursday night before Easter.
“Ten more minutes in the water and I wouldn’t have made it,” the 22-year-old said Wednesday. “It was a life changer and a wakeup call. We weren’t being smart. We didn’t have life jackets on.”
Crediting Chimney Lake residents Charlie Power and Lee Voth for coming to the rescue, Randall also praised his best friend who was in the boat with him when it overturned for keeping him calm.
“When we fell in I panicked,” Randall said. “My friend, Charlie and Lee all deserve medals.”
On the day of the accident, Randall, his friend, and Randall’s dog Mack were out exploring the lake in a 12-foot aluminum boat.
They had been on the water for a few hours, taking turns driving the boat, when Randall decided to hand the throttle over to his friend.
“But when I stood up to move forward out of his way, the water came into the back of the boat,” he said. “I’m 203 pounds and my friend is 6 foot 3 inches. With our weight at one end, the bow came up and the boat flipped.”
Three times the two men tried to turn the boat right side up, but realized that wasn’t going to be possible.
Mack, who is a red nose pit bull cannot swim, so Randall grabbed him and put him on top of the overturned boat.
“We were in the water for 45 minutes,” Randall recalled. “I’m a good swimmer, but it was so cold. I couldn’t feel my legs and arms.”
His time in the water was like being in a vortex, he said.
“You realize you cannot mess with mother nature, and you can’t fight it. All you can do is just keep trying to breath.”
When Voth and Power rowed out and rescued them and got them safely to shore, Randall wasn’t able to get out of the boat on his own.
Corp. Jeremy Roberts and Const. Will Gale of the Williams Lake RCMP who arrived on the scene just as the rescue boat was nearing the shore, helped him onto a stretcher and got him to the ambulance.
“The residents of Chimney Lake that show ed up that night need to be commended,” Gale said. “The true heroes were Power and Voth and without their help the two young men would have perished.”
Roberts agreed saying the community was fantastic.
“And those two guys were in good spirits, considering what they’d been through,” Roberts said of the rescued men.
Randall was released from the hospital two days after the accident, but is still recuperating from kidney failure, muscle damage and respiratory issues which have left him using a puffer.
“It’s going to take some time because my body is still traumatized,” he shook his head. “I still cannot understand how I’m alive. I don’t wish any child, woman or man to go through the same thing.”
In the meantime he said he’s hoping to meet up with Roberts and Gale for a coffee at Tim Hortons so he can shake their hands.
“I really appreciated their great senses of humour,” he said of the two officers.