Ed Van Heeren, president of Rocky Mountain House Search and Rescue, says some central Alberta rivers are best avoided due to strong currents. (Contributed photo).

Rocky search and rescue crew navigates the risks to recover boater’s body

Boating, rafting not recommended on dangerous West Country rivers

Search and rescue workers recovered the body of a man from the Clearview River after dodging massive tree trunks and other debris carried by the fast-flowing waters.

“It’s very, very dangerous down there,” said Ed Van Heeren, president of Rocky Mountain House Search and Rescue.

He travelled in a jet boat down the river with three others on a grim recovery effort Tuesday.

It was a “rough day,” admitted Van Heeren, whose crew pulled the body of a 34-year-old Calgarian from the river.

The man, who has not been named by police, had been missing since June 30, but the fast-flowing river had been too treacherous for a previous recovery.

The rapid currents — exacerbated by a week of heavy rains along the river’s mountain headwaters — have abated somewhat since Tuesday.

But more rain is forecast for the coming week, leaving provincial river-flow analysts watchful of whether conditions in the West Country near Rocky Mountain House and Caroline will once again worsen.

Van Heeren said Wednesday that only experienced jet boaters should attempt to manoeuvre through the hazardous tree branches and other debris in Clearwater River.

Besides the possibility of being hit by a floating tree trunk, their boat can also be pulled by river currents toward large log jams.

“If the water sucks you under (the jams), very few people would come out alive again,” he cautioned.

Van Heeren said volumes of rain water have widened the Clearwater River, creating new channels along its banks that never existed before.

To avoid the heavy debris coming down the centre of the river, the recovery crew sometimes steered closer to the edge of the widened waterway but then risked plowing into sandbars and submerged vegetation, he said.

No boating or rafting on the Clearwater or North Saskatchewan rivers is being recommended by Alberta Environment. The department has issued stream-flow advisories for the North Saskatchewan and its tributaries.

So far, the Red Deer River’s flow falls within normal levels and no advisories have been issued, said Khaled Akhtar, a river forecast engineer for Alberta Environment.

But with more rain expected over the next six days, he said the province will be keeping an eye on all river flows and it could be issuing more advisories.

Albertans can keep track of the situation through an Alberta Rivers app or the website rivers.alberta.ca.

The deceased Calgary man is thought to have overturned in his boat, as his car and trailer were found parked near the river.

Witnesses had seen him wearing a life jacket. As of Wednesday, there was still no sign of his boat.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Separate lightning strikes hit two vehicles near Ponoka

No one injured in lightning strikes on Thursday morning

Government changes working conditions to meet wildfire observers’ needs

Wildfire observers opposed mandatory days off with no pay

More RCMP resources recommended for Red Deer’s downtown and other priorities

City council to consider where to designate three additional officers

Red Deer rents among the lowest in Canada

One-bedroom unit averages $1,056 per month

Rain doesn’t scare visitors away from Westerner Days

Attendance steady at Red Deer fair and exhibition

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

American father, two sons among passengers on plane in fatal Labrador crash

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — An American father and his two sons vacationing… Continue reading

Apollo 11 astronauts reunite on 50th anniversary of moonshot

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins… Continue reading

Fast-growing web of doorbell cams raises privacy fears

The woodsy community of Wolcott, Connecticut, doesn’t see a lot of crime.… Continue reading

Statistics Canada reports retail sales fell 0.1 per cent in May to $51.5B

OTTAWA — Canadian retail sales fell for the first time in four… Continue reading

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada has lowered the rate used by… Continue reading

Stop CBSA policy requiring bulletproof vests in immigrant detention: advocates

OTTAWA — A group of doctors, lawyers, legal scholars and human-rights organizations… Continue reading

Ontario attorney general invokes PM in spat over refugee legal aid

OTTAWA — Ontario’s attorney general is taking his fight for more federal… Continue reading

Judge finds Dennis Oland not guilty of murder in multi-millionaire father’s death

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Dennis Oland was cheered and applauded by supporters… Continue reading

Most Read