4 Wing responds to rescue call

Jeff Gaye

Personnel from 4 Wing participated in the rescue of a missing rafter last week.

The subject of the search had last been seen floating in an inner tube down the Sand River near Highway 55 on the evening of Monday July 31. The Sand River flows into the Beaver River northwest of Bonnyville.

Just before midnight the person was reported to Bonnyville RCMP as overdue. He was not wearing a life jacket and was not carrying a phone.

Early Tuesday morning Wing Air Traffic Control asked civilian aircraft in the area to help with the search. 4 Wing’s Ground Search and Rescue team set out toward the search area with two boats.

A civilian helicopter 16 miles from Cold Lake airfield agreed to help, and managed to locate and rescue the missing person.

The helicopter landed on base, and 4 Wing Fire Department administered first aid to the passenger, who was described as being “cold but not in a critical condition.” He was taken to a local hospital and has since been released.

Sgt Sarah Parke of Bonnyville RCMP says it’s important for people to exercise caution and safety on the water. That includes “life jackets and proper vessels for the water that you’re in, especially this summer because the water levels are so high. That river was moving a little faster than it normally would.”

“Not to be selfish, but it’s not just the person themselves that they’re putting at risk,” she said. “It’s every other person that’s involved in trying to assist them and potentially rescue them too.”