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Fishing guides save three from overturned boat

Posted: August 14, 2017

Fishing guides save three from overturned boat

Smith, right and MacKenzie saved three people
boat had overturned in rapids.

East St. Paul's Matt Smith and co-worker Brendan MacKenzie were in the right place at the right time, and three Ontario boaters are glad they were.
Smith, 23, and MacKenzie, 20 from Windsor, Ont., are both fishing guides in Sioux Lookout, Ont., and were at Anderson's Lodge where they work on the evening of July 2 when they heard calls for help coming from Pelican Rapids.

The two men took a boat from the lodge and went to the base of the rapids where they found an overturned boat and three adults - two males, one female - clinging to the boat and calling for help.

Smith said they were able to reach the victims fairly quickly.  They were at the bottom of the falls by the time the two guides heard them.

"It wasn't dangerous for us, a side from some strong currents," Smith said.

"We both spend every day in a boat and run those rapids so we are confident in maneuvering a boat in that area."

Smith said when they arrived, all three were clinging to their overturned boat.  Efforts to lift them into their boat failed and one of the men said he couldn't hold on any longer.
"The current was too strong to pull the flipped boat so we gave them all life jackets and took the (tired) guy and tied a rope around him and my roommate held him up while I drove the boat to a safe spot on shore," Smith said.

They returned and towed the boat and remaining two boaters out of the current and to a dock.  They took all three to their cabin and started a fire and called 911.

"They were all cold and shook up so we ... started a fire and gave them some blankets and towels to dry off and to try and prevent them from going into shock as they were in cold water for roughly 40 minutes before we got to them," Smith said.

"The one lady also had a hook stuck in her and we were concerned for head injuries so we then called the ambulance to take them to the hospital."

According to Sgt. Andrew Simpson from the Ontario Provincial Police, Smith and MacKenzie were the right men for the rescue job.  Simpson said Cst. Adam Rudd responded to the guides' call for assistance at just after 9 p.m., and when he arrived, he found the three boaters already in the cabin and warming by a fire.

"From what Officer Rudd observed, he found that the efforts of Matthew and his co-worker, their quick decision, their ability to navigate the water safely and ... the help they provided on shore, building a fire, that was really great of them," Simpson said.

"If they hadn't responded, and recognized the need to respond in the way they did, those three certainly could have perished that night.".

Simpson said the two men, aged 59 and 53, and the 46-year-old female, all from the nearly community of Hudson, were suffering from hypothermia from the time they spend in the water.

The OPP in Sioux Lookout have nominated Smith and MacKenzie for an award for their efforts.

"We think what they did was amazing and we think they deserve some recognition for it," Simpson said.

Smith says he and MacKenzie simply did what anyone would have done.

"I don't think we are heroes, it was just lucky that we were able to help the situation," he said.

"We luckily had access to a boat.  We also both happen to have primary and secondary care training, which was definitely a benefit and helped us keep the situation under control.  I would hope that anybody faced with a similar situation would have done the same thing.


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