Two late-night swimmers had to be fished from the cold, swift waters in Miles Canyon early Tuesday morning.
The 19-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were drinking with friends on the little peninsula at the head of the canyon.
Around 1:30 a.m. they decided to take a dip in the Yukon River.
“They were local people – local people who should have known better,” said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Don Rogers.
They were quickly swept around the corner and pinned into a crevice along the canyon wall.
Had they been able to free themselves, they would have passed through the canyon and been flushed into Schwatka Lake.
But the strong current wouldn’t allow them to escape.
RCMP were called and two officers responded in the police jet boat, positioning it adjacent to the crevice where the two swimmers were trapped.
“It was difficult to maintain the position that close to the rocks without either crashing the boat or causing harm to the individuals,” said Rogers.
“So it certainly was a dangerous situation.”
The officers threw a lifeline to the man and pulled him into the boat.
However, the woman was trapped deeper within the crevice and rescuers couldn’t get the rope to her.
A member of the fire department rappelled down the canyon wall and got a rope to the woman. The rescuers in the boat then pulled her out.
The swimmers were in the water about an hour, said Rogers.
“They were definitely on the way to hypothermia; the water is still cold this time of year and an hour is certainly a long time to be in there.”
Both were taken to Whitehorse General Hospital and they were both released by 4 a.m.
One of the RCMP officers injured their leg during the rescue, but Rogers wouldn’t say how the injury occurred, or how serious it was.
“They weren’t able to work the rest of the night or the next day – so we’ll see how that goes,” he said.
“They didn’t break anything, as far as we know.”
The RCMP would like to remind citizens that swimming in swift water is always dangerous, and is not encouraged.
“And swimming while you’re intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol is just plain stupid,” said Rogers.
“You’re not just risking your own lives, but you’re risking the lives of people who have to come and rescue you.”
Contact Chris Oke at firstname.lastname@example.org