Two boaters had to be rescued on Abraham Lake near Nordegg on Sunday when wind blew their dinghy away from shore.
A 33-year-old Smokey Lake man and 22-year-old Willingdon woman were found by rescuers “near-hypothermic” and huddled under their rubber boat beneath a tree trying to stay warm. They were treated by EMS.
It was the fifth search and rescue mission in the Abraham Lake area in the last few weeks.
Rocky Mountain House RCMP said they got a call of boaters in distress about 7:30 p.m.
Police responded with assistance from Rocky Volunteer Search and Rescue, Park Rangers, Fire Department, EMS and Alberta Fish and Wildlife Officers.
“Emergency personnel faced reduced light conditions in the late evening hours and were also hindered by an intense storm that had moved into the area causing huge waves on the lake,” says RCMP in a news release on Monday.
An Alberta Fish and Wildlife Officer and two firefighters were able to launch their rescue boat and search the shoreline, where they found the two boaters.
Earlier in the evening, the two outdoor enthusiasts, wearing shorts, T-shirts and sandals had taken a small “dinghy” rubber boat out on the lake near the Klein River.
“Neither had a life preserver, rope or bailer bucket as required by law. Both were wearing shorts, t-shirts and sandals,” say police.
“Once out on the water, the wind blew them away from shore to the middle of the lake where the white-capped waves blew them further and further from shore. Fortunately, the waves did not capsize the small boat.”
Both have been charged with failing to have life jackets as required by the Canada Shipping Act and additional charges are pending. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the incident.
Police remind all recreational boaters and fisherman to exercise caution and take the necessary precautions when planning a wilderness expedition. Approved personal flotation devices and thermal protective wear should be worn at all times.
Extra food, medical and camping supplies should also be packed in case of an emergency. Family, friends or neighbors should be advised of itineraries, destinations and expected return times.