High school students canoeing on the South McQuesten River helped rescue a middle-aged couple stranded after their Zodiac’s engine breaking down.
Fourteen students in Vanier Secondary School’s Grade 11 outdoor education class were on a five-day field trip led by a teacher and a river guide on September 21 near Mayo when they spotted a couple in distress.
The pair couldn’t break themselves free from fallen trees in the river because their engine had broken down. They were cold, wet and inexperienced in emergency situations on water, said police in a news release.
Bob Daffe, a guide with Tatshenshini Expeditions, and Jenny Darling, the class instructor, went in to help. Daffe found a clearing beside an abandoned bridge to use as a camp. Darling and her students helped move the boat out of the trees and toward the site.
Daffe called police on a satellite phone and the students helped warm up the couple once they landed. A few more days in the bush would have seriously damaged the couple’s health, police said.
The campsite wasn’t known to police, who then asked Mayo resident Bruce MacGregor to help them find it. The water on the McQuesten River was low and a decision was made to not use the RCMP’s river boat.
MacGregor knew of a trail leading to the abandoned bridge and a team left with trucks and a quad to find the site.
The campsite was discovered and the couple and their equipment were taken back to town soon after.
“Mr. Daffe’s foresight in selecting his camp location, and Mr. MacGregor’s local knowledge to find that location from land, was invaluable to the rescue and recovery operation,” said RCMP in a release.
“The RCMP and the stricken couple in question would like to thank Mr. Daffe and the VCSS Grade 11 Outdoor Education class for coming to their assistance in their time of need.”