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SAR ropes team plucks hypothermic swimmers from tough spot on Cowichan River

Boys stuck on a shelf under a cliff along the Cowichan River
Cowichan Search and Rescues train regularly or rope rescues such as the one they performed Tuesday night along the Cowichan River. Pictured is a training exercise. (Cowichan Search and Rescue photo)

Cowichan Search and Rescue is being lauded once more after the rope rescue of two youth as darkness fell Tuesday night, May 2.

Cowichan Search and Rescue search manager Jamie Tudway-Cains said his group got the call for help about 7:40 p.m.

The boys had been swimming in the Cowichan River with friends but ended up separated.

“From what I heard they’d been swimming further up-river and didn’t get out where they should have,” Tudway-Cains explained.

The cold and wet pair had become stranded on a shelf in the river at the bottom of a cliff.

About 20 members of Cowichan Search and Rescue joined RCMP members and B.C. Ambulance services above the river off Indian Road and ultimately the decision was made to extract the duo from above instead of from the water.

“Daylight was an issue,” Tudway-Cains said. “Darkness was coming really quick we didn’t want people on the river. We put the rope team down over the edge and pulled them out that way.”

But not before they boys were warmed up enough to extract.

“One was quite hypothermic, the other wasn’t as bad but by the time we got them up their temperatures were pretty good,” said the rescuer.

Tudway-Cains said his team wrapped up just before midnight.

“Thank you for helping my nephew and his friend,” wrote Nicole Lovett on the Cowichan Search and Rescue’s public Facebook page.

“Holy crazy what an experience thank goodness for our search and rescue teams,” added Olivia Lauzon.

“Thank you to all the volunteers with Cowichan Search & Rescue,” added Jan Orrico. “You are all so amazing, stay safe!”

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