Ottawa firefighters rescued four “very lucky people” who lost their canoe — but not their lives — after being rescued from the Ottawa River just half an hour into the new year.
A 911 call made around 12:37 a.m. New Year’s Day alerted rescue crews to people stranded in a boat behind the Supreme Court of Canada in downtown Ottawa.
Ottawa Fire Service spokesperson Marc Messier said two water and ice rescue units found two men and two women in their 20s in a canoe clinging to an ice shelf in a desperate effort to stop their boat from being pulled downstream by the fast-moving currents.
Officials at the scene said the two couples wanted to do something different and adventurous to welcome in 2015.
“The currents are very strong there and dangerous at any time,” said Messier. “But with the thaw last week and the rains the current is even stronger than usual.”
The situation was so precarious a third rescue unit was dispatched to the scene.
The first rescue boat immediately went out to find the stranded paddlers and attempted to get them on a stable platform. Then more boats were sent to ferry the stranded people to shore and keep crews safe. The two women were the first to be brought to shore, where they were assessed by paramedics.