Some quick thinking and a little improvisation on the part of two Fire Rescue members saved a family from sinking into the freezing South Thompson Sunday.
"The Kamloops Fire Rescue staff were instrumental in saving the group from an icy plunge into the Thompson River," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned.
Around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, two men aged 34 and 44, a woman aged 32 and a 13-month-old boy were taking their newly bought boat out on the water to test it, but they soon got into trouble.
Almost as soon as the boat was put into fast flowing current, it began taking on water through the engine leg.
"The new owner of the boat acknowledged later that he was unprepared for the swiftness of the river and that the situation quickly deteriorated to a point beyond his control," said Learned.
One man tried swimming ashore but was forced back when the cold water caused him to feel chest pains and nausea.
The infant was the only passenger wearing a life jacket.
At 5 p.m., emergency personnel were called to the riverside near the Lafarge cement plant to assist.
With no powered vessel around to reach the sinking group, Fire Rescue and two RCMP officers split up and took up positions on both sides of the river.
When firefighters spotted a canoe, they saw an opportunity. The pair jumped in and finding no paddles used shovels to pull their way to the boat.
With the use of a rope, the firefighters secured the sinking boat and got the vessel and all on board safely to shore.
An RCMP boat that had been launched from the city arrived only after the rescue.
"As we head into the beginning of the boating season, all watercraft users are reminded that life jackets for each person on board the vessel are required and are recommended to be worn at all times," said Learned.
Fire Rescue did not return calls for comment by press time.