Tubers share warning after harrowing Canada Day experience
COURTENAY, B.C. -- Two Comox Valley women are warning others about a fresh hazard that has appeared along the Puntledge River in Courtenay, one they say almost cost them their lives.
Rachel Jannati and Jasmin Moore were in a group of four people tubing on the river on Canada Day when they came into contact with a fallen tree along the side of the river near the Condensory Bridge.
"I went under and my friend was on top with her tube and I couldn't get out, I could feel my legs getting sucked under the water and basically I was running out of air," Jannati says.
It was her first time tubing on the river and she estimates she was stuck under the water and in the roots of the fallen tree for about 30 seconds before she was able to pull herself free.
"I was running out of air and then I saw a branch and I just pulled myself up and out to the shore. It was a horrible experience. My whole life flashed before my eyes," she says.
Moore ran into difficulties moments after her friend did.
"Her tube hit the stump and she was swept right off and went right under and I felt her underneath my tube, so I had to pull off and she proceeded to pop up on my right-hand side, and then I was sucked under," Moore says.
Moore estimates she's tubed the Puntledge at least 50 times, but never believed she would ever run into difficulties.
"I've never felt unsafe on it and it's just something that's so unpredictable,” Moore says. “I would have rolled my eyes if someone had told me, ‘Be careful, something could happen.’ I'm not interested in tubing anytime soon.”
Search teams that rescue individuals along the river say tubers need to always anticipate the unexpected.
"It's definitely a common issue with any rivers or any waters and there are people, tubers, caught in hazards on the Puntledge every year," says Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue member Sebastien Narcoux.
He says tubers should always wear flotation devices, go with people who are more experienced along the river and also carry a whistle.
"Rivers are hazardous,” Narcoux says. “It doesn't let go. The current is always pushing. It's not going to tire. You will.”