Six people were stranded on the North Saskatchewan River up river of the Saunders recreation area. (File photo by Advocate staff)

UPDATED: Stranded boaters rescued on shore of North Saskatchewan River

Adults, children and dog found Saturday night

Boaters were rescued Saturday night after their 911 call from the Nordegg backcountry was able to make it through to emergency dispatch.

Rocky Mountain House RCMP said at about 7:30 p.m. Clearwater Fire Department reported that six people were stranded on the North Saskatchewan River up river of the Saunders recreation area about 20 km east of Nordegg.

Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Service, RCMP, Search and Rescue, Rocky Ambulance and Conservation Enforcement located two adults, two youths, two children and one husky dog on the south shore. No injuries were reported.

Their boat, which had gotten away when they stopped to rest, was located down river on the north shore.

David Hadley, Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Service assistant fire chief, said one of the boaters had a cellphone that didn’t have any bars to indicate reception service, but luckily the 911 call still went through.

“Take your phone with you. Even though your phone says you don’t have any cellphone reception try 911. You may be surprised,” Hadley said.

He said there are limited cellphone towers in the backcountry so the group just happened to be in the right spot to get service.

Hadley said anyone who goes into the backcountry for activities like hiking, quading and boating should always have a plan and always tell someone where they are headed in case of an a problem otherwise emergency crews are “looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Visitors from other parts of the province may not be aware that during the spring melt rivers run low in the morning and high in the afternoon. Hikers are often surprised, he said.

“They’ll cross the streams early in the morning when it’s about ankle or shin deep. They’ll try to come back at 4 p.m. in the afternoon and that same river might be mid-thigh deep and flowing quite fast.”

He said visits to the backcountry are increasing as summer approaches. The next big wave will hit once school is out.


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