From the river shore at the east end of Puntledge Park, Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue swift water rescue co-ordinator Mike Bryan points to the area of the fallen tree, which lies approximately 100 metres down-river from the rock and reed island seen in this photo. Photo by Terry Farrell

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue issues warning after new hazard develops in the Puntledge River

UPDATE: 24 hours after a public warning about a hazardous tree in the Puntledge River was issued, several agencies combined forces to remove the tree.

Read more here: Tree removed from Puntledge River

***

Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue (CVGSAR) has launched a “public safety advisory” regarding the hazards of tubing, after a large tree fell into the Puntledge River, in Courtenay.

“The tree is almost river-wide, so right across the river,” said Mike Bryan, CVGSAR swift water rescue co-ordinator. “There is a way to walk around the right-hand side, but the main flow of the river goes through on the left. So if you aren’t paying attention and you are just tubing along in the current, you will be taken right into this large tree.”

The tree is located a few hundred metres downstream from the river shore area at the lower (east) end of Puntledge Park rock beach.

From a timing perspective, Bryan said the tree is a little more than two minutes downstream from the rock and reed island that can be seen just beyond the east end of Puntledge Park.

“There is water pouring over top, but unfortunately there is also water pouring underneath and it sounds like … several people have already gone underneath it and barely escaped. So we are very concerned about it.

“From [upstream] you can see the branches on the one end, but what you aren’t realizing is that water is pouring over a huge log on the left side.”

Launching such a public advisory campaign is not normal practice for CVGSAR, but Bryan said the circumstances surrounding this particular hazard warrants the extra attention.

“Anytime there is a river-wide hazard like this, we are not always going to be aware of it, and we are not always going to be able to put out public notices, but this one, because of its location, and because of the way it is acting, we are very concerned that someone does get pinned,” he said.

VIDEO: Man rescued from Puntledge River

RELATED: Second river rescue in a week on the Puntledge

The CVGSAR Facebook post about the hazard was shared more than 800 times within the first day.

Many of the comments suggest the removal of the tree.

While Bryan did not dismiss that as a possibility somewhere down the road, the tree is actually a natural hazard – no different than the large rocks, sandbars or islands that make up the river path.

“People need to remember [when travelling the Puntledge] that they are on a natural river. There is literally hundreds of trees between here and the hatchery that could come down,” he said.

Another word of advice Bryan offered was to consider keeping the beer and coolers at bay while traversing the Puntledge.

“We want people to think about being sober. If you’re not sober and you are trying to make decisions quickly, or you are trying to rescue your companions, it could turn into a very bad situation,” he said.

Public flotation devices are also encouraged.

“Any time you’ve got moving water, there’s a lot of force there,” said Bryan. “Even if you are a very strong swimmer, you are not going to be able to push against the force of the water.

“This isn’t an amusement park. This is a natural river. There’s no one patrolling it, and no lifeguards on duty.”



terry.farrell@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

This photo, courtesy the Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue Facebook page, shows the hazard nearly covering the entire width of the river.

This photo, shot downstream from the fallen tree, shows a clear path on what would be a tuber’s right-hand side when approaching the hazard. The natural flow of the river will bring tubers directly into the bulk of the tree. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue

Just Posted

Christmas program creating tradition for PQB single mother and daughter

‘It just makes all the difference for your child to smile and laugh on Christmas morning’

PQB crime report: Thieves pilfer cash, root beer and hand sanitizer

Oceanside RCMP receive 249 complaints in one-week period

Solutions in sight for Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor shortage

With feasibility study funded, group shares vision of ‘campus of healthcare’

A very cheesy Christmas at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

Annual family Christmas event, this year with raclette hot off the melting wheel

VIDEO: Kenney lays out key demands for meeting with Trudeau

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aims for clear signs of federal action on two-day Ottawa trip

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Firefighters called to burning motorhome on Nanaimo’s waterfront

Nanaimo Fire Rescue extinguishes blaze Monday afternoon on Esplanade and Irwin Street

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Cougar destroyed in Penticton area after mauling dog, killing cat

This is the first reported incident with a cougar this year in the Penticton area

Feds not enforcing standards on Hungarian duck imports, B.C. farmer says

‘You have no way of knowing what’s in the bag’

No reports yet of Canadians affected by New Zealand volcano eruption, feds say

Missing and injured included tourists from the U.S., China, Australia, Britain and Malaysia

Most Read