Four people spent about two hours trapped by surging seas on a large rock off Long Beach yesterday before being rescued unharmed by an air force chopper.
Three boogie boarders and walker who misjudged the tides were pulled off Lovekin Rock in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, south of Tofino at about 6 p.m., March 26, by an Royal Canadian Air Force Cormorant out of Comox.
“It’s a bit of a strange case,” Maritime Forces Pacific public affairs officer Lieut. Melissa Kia told the Westerly News.
“Originally, there were three walkers that went out to Lovekin Rock during the low tide, the tide came in and they couldn’t get off the rock. Two of them decided to swim to shore and the third person ruled that it was too risky,” she said.
Approach by boat to the rock was ruled too dangerous due to the state of the sea, and Canadian Coast Guard Tofino 1 rescue boat crews advised the stranded walker to remain in place while the RCAF helicopter arrived on scene, states a release issued by Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC) Victoria.
“This is where the case takes a bit of a twist,” said Kia. “Apparently there were three boogie boarders in the area and they were also subsequently stranded due to the degrading sea conditions; so not able to jump off [Lovekin] because the waves crashing into it were much too big.”
The stranded walker and three boogie boarders awaited the arrival of the helicopter and all four of them were hoisted off the rock.
“Everybody was fine,” Kia said.
Kia encouraged beachgoers to check the tides and know the timings, adding JRCC Victoria responds to over 3,000 cases a year.
“While Mother Nature is beautiful, it can also turn. Just be aware of your surroundings and try to be as safe as possible,” she said.
Last year, there were two fatal accidents at Long Beach. Nijin John, a 24-year-old research student at the University of Victoria, was killed in a surfing accident on Feb.10 off Lovekin Rock. During the May Long weekend, an ocean accident off Long Beach claimed the life of 52-year old Ann Wittenberg, who was in town for her daughter’s wedding.
EDITORIAL: Restore the Surf Guard program at Long Beach