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Thread: Petitcodiac River Rescue

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Eastern Canada
    Journal Entries

    Default Petitcodiac River Rescue

    This rescue took place right in front of my house the other day.

    The Petitcodiac River is the most dangerous piece of water around here with about a 25 foot tidal range, a tidal bore, mud, quicksand, and a species of shark. The sharks are the least of the worries though. Being in the mud is so exhausting that even a very fit person has to struggle to remove themselves let alone someone else. This time of year the mud instantly freezes when it contacts the air. This river has killed more people than can be counted.

    The guy that drops from the Helicopter skid in Video 1 (Troy Boomer) is a friend of mine. Almost immediately his rescue line got tangled around him in the prop wash of the helo' slowing his rescue attempt and causing some to think he was injured in the free-fall. Not impossible because of floating ice. He got to the victim eventually and a second man in a dry suit slid down the mud bank. Then they all had to be dragged up the bank because climbing it is next to impossible in good conditions, let alone exhausted in December in a mud caked dry suit.

    They were all lucky that the tide was coming in at the time. Had it been going out she would have been 10 to 12 kilometres down river by my granddads farm and medical evac would have taken at least another hour. The ending would not have been a happy one.

    Hats off to Troy;
    "Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act." Clint Eastwood

    Part 1
    Part 3

    An RCMP helicopter hovers as Riverview firefighter Troy Boomer is attached to it by a line while rescuing a woman from the Petitcodiac River yesterday afternoon

    Riverview firefighter Troy Boomer moves a floating stretcher during the rescue of a woman from the Petitcodiac River yesterday.

    Codiac RCMP and Riverview Fire and Rescue officials attend to a woman who was rescued from the Petitcodiac River in Moncton yesterday

    Published Saturday December 29th, 2007
    Appeared on page A1

    Riverview firefighter and dive team member Troy Boomer leaped from the door of an RCMP helicopter hovering 20 feet above the Petitcodiac River yesterday to rescue a freezing woman from the icy water.
    The dramatic rescue followed a frantic search for the woman, who had apparently fallen from the Gunningsville Bridge and floated downriver to an area near the Bore View Park and the statue of Moncton's first mayor, Joseph Salter.
    When Boomer got to her, she had been in the freezing water for close to 45 minutes.
    "She was conscious and alert, but obviously suffering from hypothermia. I told her I was there to help and get her out. She said she was cold, 'help me, I'm cold," a shivering Boomer said in an interview at the scene, his dive suit still caked with frozen mud.
    Riverview Fire Chief Doug Hamer said it was an incredible rescue and a "great team effort by everybody."
    The name of the victim and how she got in the water were not released by RCMP. Codiac RCMP media relations officer Chantal Farrah would only say RCMP assisted in removing a person from the water and that the person was taken to The Moncton Hospital. Boomer said he didn't care how she got in the water, since it was only his job to get her out.
    For a harrowing hour, the operation involved Riverview Fire & Rescue, Codiac Regional RCMP, staff at the water treatment plant and the Moncton and Dieppe fire departments.
    Hamer said his department was called at 1:18 p.m. to assist RCMP in searching for a woman floating in the water near the Gunningsville Bridge. Several RCMP cars were seen on the bridge at the time, and RCMP members could be seen walking along the ice and snow along the water's edge.
    The search led downriver to a spot along the Moncton side near Bore View park. Riverview Fire & Rescue split up into two teams, sending their Zodiac boat to the Moncton side while another rescue unit took up a position on the Riverview side. Luckily, the rescue spot was near a road that goes to the riverside from the water treatment plant, so rescue vehicles were able to get close to the water's edge. Riverview Fire & Rescue moved their all-terrain vehicle with a trailer into position near the water's edge while an ambulance waited near the water treatment plant.
    Meanwhile, RCMP had also called in the force's helicopter to assist. It arrived and landed near the water's edge.
    Boomer, who was dressed in a cold-water diving suit, volunteered to go up in the helicopter and was joined by Riverview volunteer firefighter Dave Crase.
    "I could hear the helicopter coming and told them to land. I got in the helicopter and we went up to around 100 feet over the water and I spotted her. I hooked up my safety line, with Crase as my tender, holding the rope. When we got down to about 20 feet, I jumped out the door," said Boomer, a second-generation firefighter and trained diver whose training involves jumping off the high platform at the Riverview Aquatic Centre with full diving gear.
    "I guess it was about three seconds to impact. I prepared for the impact, felt the splash and went underwater. I guess it was a pretty good impact. I came up, opened my eyes and started to swim over to her. The prop wash from the helicopter was too strong and I couldn't swim, so the helicopter dragged me over to where she was."
    In the helicopter, Crase was holding onto Boomer's safety line.
    "The rope had gotten tangled up so we had to work fast to get it untangled. There was nothing to hook it onto so I had to hold on for dear life. We dagged Troy and the woman toward shore. I've trained for ice rescue, but never seen anything like this in 21 years," Crase said.
    Another member of Riverview's dive team, Chris LeBlanc, meanwhile made his way toward the water, sliding down the steep 20-foot bank to the water to assist in the rescue.
    Boomer said he was having difficulty making his way through the icy water with the strong wind of the helicopter beating down on him and the safety line attached to his back.
    "There were some big chunks of ice the size of baseballs and basketballs in the water. I had my diving hood and thermal gloves on, but I was getting cold."
    According to the fire department log tape, the time was coming up on 1:50 p.m., about 40 minutes after the call first came in.
    Boomer said the woman was conscious and alert when he got to her. She was wearing a heavy winter coat, shivering cold and asking for help. She was described as being in her late 30s.
    Once he got the woman to shore, he unhooked his safety harness and waved the helicopter off. A huge plume of snow dust rose up around the water's edge as it moved away.
    Firefighters then moved the woman into their Zodiac boat and took her closer to the shore. She was then loaded into a rescue basket at 1:52 p.m. according to the log tape.
    "Then we needed all hands to pull her up the 20-foot bank," Hamer said. The basket was then loaded onto a trailer attached to the all-terrain vehicle, which transported the woman across the frozen marsh to the waiting ambulance near the water treatment plant.
    During the incident, Hamer said a couple of RCMP members who tried to make it to the victim fell through the ice and got soaked. He said the fire department received emergency assistance from the staff of the water treatment plant, who moved a loader into the area.
    "We probably could have gotten her out by ourselves, but it was a real benefit to have the helicopter there to help," Hamer said.
    Moncton Deputy Fire Chief Don McCabe said his crew included two engines and Moncton's ice rescue boat.
    "The tide was coming in at the time and the current was going in two different directions, so we didn't know which way the victim would go," McCabe said.
    He said the Moncton squad decided to set up further away, near the Chateau Moncton, just in case the current swept the victim past the Riverview rescue team. McCabe also said it was a well co-ordinated emergency rescue.
    Boomer, a firefighter with 11 years experience said he had participated in a similar incident in the river a few years ago, but the victim did not survive.

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Hunter Lake, Minnesota, USA
    Journal Entries


    Looks like unpleasent work. To say nothing of other difficulties, the propwash, this time of year, is no fun.
    The perfect canoe -
    Like a leaf on the water

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Eastern Canada
    Journal Entries


    Every rescue has its issues I guess but one can only imagine the wind chill generated by the rotors. Troy Has been in that River a number of times in the line of duty. Not all of those he rescued were human.

    Volunteer firefighters Kirk Steeves, left, and Troy Boomer help release two Atlantic white-sided dolphins into the channel of the Petitcodiac River in Riverview yesterday. Rescuers pulled four of the dolphins out of the mudchoked river after they were trapped by a failing tide.

    Troy Boomers a member of the fire department's volunteer dive team, was scheduled to write a college test when the call came for his assistance.
    He was one of the men who sat in the shallow water with a dolphin.
    He described his initial contact with the first dolphin rescued as breathtaking.
    "As soon as I poured water on him, he looked up at me and I came eye-to-eye with him. The eyes almost seemed human," Mr. Boomer said.

    Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    This is quite an amazing rescue. Very brave of your friend, WAM, and tremendous teamwork from all the rescuers involved. Good to know there are such people around with the courage, knowledge and ability to do this work.

    Lovely story about the dolphins too. I'm so glad they got them to safety.


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