Near drowning upriver

It was a close call for a couple of paddlers on the Yukon River near Marsh Lake this week. Monday, a group of six people in three canoes tried to run through the gates of the Lewes Control Structure.

It was a close call for a couple of paddlers on the Yukon River near Marsh Lake this week.

Monday, a group of six people in three canoes tried to run through the gates of the Lewes Control Structure.

The first two canoes made it through without a problem, but the third capsized.

Reports from workers on the scene, say the paddlers had taken off their lifejackets.

One of them was able to hold on to his flotation device and float to safety.

His partner in the canoe wasn’t so lucky.

She was dragged under water by the current.

She remained submerged for an excruciatingly long time until, eventually, one of the other canoes could pull her to safety.

While there is a large warning sign on the structure, people don’t seem to be getting the message.

Despite the danger it’s not uncommon for people to try to paddle through the gates, said Janet Patterson, spokesperson for the Yukon Energy Corporation.

“We feel like maybe people don’t understand how dangerous it can be,” she said.

They are planning on hosting an information session in the next few weeks to try to educate the public, said Patterson.

There is a lock at the control structure so boaters can safely bypass it.

A worker on site even opened it up when he saw the canoes approaching, said Patterson.

“For whatever reason they chose not to use the lock so that’s kind of concerning,” she said.

While there are instructions posted detailing how to operate the lock the corporation is considering posting someone there to help guide people through it.

“It couldn’t hurt,” said Patterson.

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com