WATCH: A man who got stuck under a partially submerged log on the Cowichan River was helped by witnesses over the weekend. Kendall Hanson reports.
A group from Victoria and Cowichan Search and Rescue wants to warn the public about a hazard on the Cowichan River following a frightening incident this past weekend.
The Victoria group was tubing down the river for the first time on Canada Day and had just made it through a dangerous stretch when they witnessed a man get swept and caught under a partially submerged tree.
“It went from being blissful to exciting to terrifying to horrible within seconds,” witness Charlie Appleford said.
They could see him waving frantically for help so Charlie Appleford and his friends and family sprung into action.
But they couldn’t dislodge him at first.
“He was already blue and purple…and we didn’t feel a pulse,” Appleford said. “It was just like ‘OK, we have literally seconds to try and get this man out from underneath this log’.”
They were able to help get the man’s head out of the water so they were blowing air into his mouth.
More people arrived. They then got rocks out from under the log and they were able to pull him out.
“We all on shore thought he was dead,” Melissa Ollsin said. “I mean he looked dead. He was totally purple.”
After receiving CPR for what seemed like minutes, he started to sputter and then he began to talk.
“The first thing he said was ‘I was dead. I was watching you working on me. I was dead.’ [It] gave me goosebumps,” Appleford said.
BC Ambulance arrived and transported him to the hospital. The man was released later in the day but for those who witnessed the very close call, it is a clear warning to beware of that same fallen tree
It’s a sentiment echoed by Cowichan Search and Rescue. They issued a warning about the log at Horseshoe Bend below Skutz Falls on social media last month.
“The best thing is to get out before they encounter the log and walk around it and always to know what’s around the next corner,” Trevor Paterson of Cowichan Search and Rescue said.
BC Parks cut part of the tree recently but says it wasn’t able to remove the log safely because of high water levels. It plans to do so as soon as possible.
UPDATE: CHEK News has been informed a group removed the log from the river last night (Thur. July 6)