Penticton firefighter Austin Conquergood (at right) on one of the department’s two personal watercraft. Western News file photo

Penticton firefighter Austin Conquergood (at right) on one of the department’s two personal watercraft. Western News file photo

Channel floaters rescued

Penticton Fire Department is reminding people to heed the warning at the end of the river channel

The Penticton Fire Department is reminding people to heed the warning at the end of the river channel to get off their floatation devices and the channel at the stairs.

On Sunday, at 6:24 p.m., a group of floaters did not do that and ended up needing marine rescue to help them. The floaters decided to go under the bridge where the channel dumps out into Skaha Lake.

Related: Warnings floated for Okanagan River Channel

“There was a group of three or four people on tubes that went under the bridge and the current there can take you out further, especially with the strong winds that we were having. They realized their paddling wasn’t helping and they were being pushed out further. They started yelling for help and made some sort of contact with the beach and we were called in to assist,” said Chris Forster, deputy fire chief.

Related: Man drowns in rafting incident on channel

Marine rescue used the Sea-Doos to reach the floaters and Forster said they were all tied together so they were towed into the beach.

“Definitely those Sea-Doos are turning out to be a very useful took for us when a quick response is needed. Fortunately many of the calls we have been on have been minor things,” said Forster. “However, people don’t realize the potential danger on the channel and it can take them by surprise. Most people know we recommend that they use PFD’s … they should also watch those signs on the channel because those currents are strong and if there is a strong wind it can take them out far.”

Related: New life-saving tool for Penticton Fire department

Penticton Western News