Boy, 7, saved from river in Parksville

Mom grateful to young men who rescued her son at Englishman river

Seven-year-old Carter Atkinson is seen here jumping into the Englishman River at Top Bridge last weekend.

Seven-year-old Carter Atkinson is seen here jumping into the Englishman River at Top Bridge last weekend.

A White Rock mom is deeply grateful that her seven-year-old son, Carter, is alive after being rescued from drowning in a swimming accident at Top Bridge Park on the weekend.

Jennifer Atkinson said she grew up in Parksville and comes back every summer with her family to enjoy fun in the sun. They were doing just that on Saturday at Top Bridge Regional Park when Carter suddenly found himself in trouble.

“Last year my oldest boy, Will, who is 10, jumped off the nose and he loved it,” she said. “I was happy with that as long as he was safe. Carter wanted to do that too and he had enough braves in him to do it.”

After the excitement of the jump, the three went downstream, where the two boys played in the small rapids.

“There’s a bunch of rocks and a small rapid area. It doesn’t seem like it’s much,” she said. “He was over there playing with my other son. They would get into the rapids, float down and around and Carter was trying to build a dam with the rocks. They were all really slippery, but he was only up to his knees in the water. I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

When Atkinson told the boys it was time to go however, things got ugly — and fast.

“He slipped on the rocks and sort of fell backwards and got trapped in a bit of a hollow under the water,” she said. “He went under and stayed under. The force of the water kept pushing him down.”

“I jumped in and tried to save him, but the rapids were too fast and strong and I kept getting pushed downstream. I was screaming and screaming.”

Fortunately, there were several other people at the site and they didn’t hesitate to jump into action.

“Luckily a bunch of young men were 30 or 40 feet away and they stumbled over the rocks and one of the guys reached in and pulled him out,” she said. “Carter was sputtering and coughing and he had swallowed a lot of water. If nobody had been there he wouldn’t have been able to get out on his own. I was in tears and so was my son.”

She doesn’t know who the young men were who saved her son, but Atkinson wants them to know she will always be thankful for their assistance.

“I am so grateful,” she said. “They moved so fast. I swear there were at least 10 peep who stood up and tried to help in any way they could.”