On Monday, June 10, local police and search and rescue continued searching for a 21-year-old Kitimat man who was swept away by strong currents in the Kitimat River on Saturday.
Kitimat RCMP spokesperson Cst. Kurtis Fink said the fisherman fell into the Kitimat River approximately eight kilometres north of Kitimat at the end of what is known as Powerline Road just before 6 p.m.
He said RCMP members and the RCMP dive team, Kitimat Ground Search and Rescue, Terrace Search and Rescue swift water, Kitimat Fire Department, a local helicopter and Kitimat Victim Services have all been involved in the operation.
“With the rains and melting snowpack in the mountains, water levels are rising, creating stronger currents and deeper water. Please consider wearing personal flotation devices while fishing in the river,” said Fink.
In August 2017 a French tourist nearly drowned in the Kitimat River when the waders he was wearing filled with water and dragged him down the river.
The tourist was fortunate that three staff members from the Kitimat Hatchery, Shaun Barbosa, Sarah Bouwmeester and Stacey Hobson, were nearby and rescued the 72-year-old man.
Hobson said at the time that the fisherman’s near-drowning was a good reminder of how important the proper gear and good training is.
“It’s really important that people learn proper wading techniques and that they know their limits,” said Hobson.
Bouwmeester added that it is vital for fishermen to wear a wading belt with their waders.
“Waders, properly secured and sealed with a wading belt, can act as a flotation device,” said Bouwmeester.
She said people who regularly use the river should also consider completing swift water awareness training, which can be done online.
In July last year a fisherman from Alberta drowned when the boat he was in capsized after hitting a logjam a kilometre down from the Eighteen Mile Bridge.
He was one of a group of four fishermen that ended up in the river.
While rescuers weren’t sure whether the fisherman was wearing a lifejacket, Arruda didn’t believe so.
“There are lots of people who go missing and the common thread is that they don’t have lifejackets on,” said Arruda at the time.