Quick action by Andrew Newman and a nearby sailor potentially saved a man’s life near White Rock’s West Beach last Thursday afternoon.
Newman called Peace Arch News the next day to describe what happened at approximately 2 p.m. while he was on White Rock’s pier doing marketing for his business, White Rock Sea Tours and Whale Watching.
“A mayday was issued by the coast guard on the radio for a person in the water from an overturned kayak half a mile west of the pier,” Newman said, adding he had a portable radio with him. “He was reported to be calling for help. I freaked out because I didn’t have my boat with me that day.”
Newman said he found a man who was working on his sailboat on the pier and they both went to search for the man in the water.
In the meantime, the White Rock RCMP, fire, and EMS were on route to the beach and an RCMP helicopter was circling above.
“We motored over to the guy and basically got him out of the water, we got him out of his wet clothes and took him back to the pier,” Newman said.
From talking with the man, Newman learned that he was from White Rock and his kayak was taking on water.
“He had been in the water for about two hours trying to get back to shore. He was cold, shivering and mildly hypothermic. Ambulances and fire met him on shore.”
Newman said the man was without a radio or phone, but he was wearing a life jacket.
“In my experience, that’s the only thing that saved him.”
White Rock fire Chief Phil Lemire said Monday that the fire department received a call that there was a possible drowning after a man overturned his kayak. He said the man was assisted to the pier by a passing sailboat and was checked out by paramedics on shore.
Newman said the man appeared to be OK.