A Comox Valley woman says she could have died in a terrifying experience on the Puntledge River in Courtenay on Canada day.
“And before you know it I was sucked under the water for way too long fighting for my life,” said Rachel Jannati.
Jannati says she and three others were tubing downriver from the Condensory Bridge when the strong current sucked her into the roots of a fallen tree on the right side of the river and she couldn’t get out.
“We tried to paddle away from it and I went under and my friend was on top of me with her tube and I couldn’t get out. I could feel my legs getting sucked under,” said Jannati.
Her friend Jasmin Moore was on top of her and then she was sucked under as well.
“And luckily I saw a light and I saw a branch and I pulled myself up from the branch,” said Jannati.
“She proceeded to pop up on my right-hand side and I was just sucked under,” said Moore. “I got to the bottom of the stump underwater and just started climbing up and eventually got a breath.”
They pulled themselves to safety and survived what they say was a very close call.
The Puntledge River attracts tubers every summer and almost every year a local Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue team is called to save someone in distress.
Tubers have also died on the river in the past.
“I just wanted to kind of create awareness, be careful out there,” said Jannati. “It is not just a calm river, respect the river, it can be very dangerous and deadly.”
Search and Rescue officials warn that hazards in the river can change after every storm and that people underestimate the strength of the currents
“Always be vigilant, always talk to people, do your homework before you go and as you’re floating down the river stay on guard and face downriver to see what’s coming,” said Sebastien Marcoux, Search Manager with Comox Valley Ground SAR.
Moore, says she has tubed down the river countless times and never thought there would be a problem but says she now has a new respect for the river.
Jannati and her family are new to the area and she says it was her first time tubing the river but she also says it will be her last.