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These Next 2 Articles Could Become A Kettle Of Worms Fast...

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  • weir33
    The lure of the ocean spindrift and spray make for a beautiful setting. But the average joe will not believe you when you tell them it is not safe to stand that close to the water
    Peggy's Cove N.S. As a child I visited Peggy,s Cove and was warned of staying away from the water. As an adult I spent several months working recovery after Swiss Air flight 111, Over the course of a few months I watched hundreds of people stand on the rocks next to the ocean. The waves seem to wash away the tragic memories as well.

    Maybe Mr. Heath should invest in some life preservers they are easier to hold onto than more signage and might get the point across a little more effectivly

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  • MalahatTwo7

    Two swept off rocks, one returns. Sunday, December 01, 2002
    Debra Brash, Times Colonist / The parents of a Victoria man who was swept out to sea off Botanical Beach stand with the man's friend who was also carried away but managed to pull himself to shore. Searchers watch for signs of life.

    Debra Brash, Times Colonist / A search boat rides the tumultuous waves off Botanical Beach after a man was swept out to sea. Helicopters, a Buffalo aircraft and a tugboat also joined in the search.

    BOTANICAL BEACH -- A Victoria father and stepmother, seeking comfort in each other's arms, stared at the boiling, turbulent ocean as the waves crashed and rolled onto the rocky shore Saturday afternoon.
    They stood and peered at the horizon, hoping for a glimpse of their missing 28-year-old son, who was swept off the rocks a few hours before by a thundering wave at Botanical Beach near Port Renfrew.
    A few metres away, a family friend sat on a bleached log, surrounded by B.C. Ambulance paramedics. He was wrapped in a blanket and wearing a firefighter's coat. His face was wet with tears.

    The 26-year-old Victoria man had been hiking with his friend on a rocky point Saturday about 10 a.m. when they saw a huge wave rolling toward them. "They hung onto the rocks. They had nowhere else to go," said Sooke RCMP Const. Tania Barkhouse. "But the wave was too strong and they were swept into the water."

    The younger man managed to swim back near the shore. He clung to the rocks as three more waves crashed onto him, Barkhouse said. He looked for his friend and could see him being swept out farther and farther. Finally, he pulled himself onto dry land. "He kept track of his friend. Then there was a bed of kelp and he couldn't see him anymore," said Barkhouse.

    The 26-year-old ran from the beach, along a trail and back to the parking lot to his car. He drove to the first house he came to and called 911. Then he phoned his parents and asked them to call his friend's parents and tell them that their son had been swept into the ocean.

    Both couples jumped in their cars and drove the 100 kilometres from Victoria to Port Renfrew as quickly as they could. Meanwhile, B.C. Ambulance paramedic Les Sohier drove back to the beach with the young man to search for the missing friend. Sohier said he was hopeful at first.

    "But there were eight-foot standing waves when I got here," he said.
    Signs posted in the popular hiking area warn people not to go too close to the ocean. The parents of the missing man arrived at the beach. About 20 minutes later, the parents of the younger man rushed to his side and pulled him into an embrace.

    The Victoria Rescue Co-ordination Centre (hey this is my office) had set an intensive water and air search in motion. Two coast guard ships from Bamfield and two coast guard auxiliary vessels from Sooke plowed through the heaving water. Coast guard helicopters -- one Canadian, one American -- flew over the ocean and checked the shoreline for signs of the missing man who had last been seen about 200 metres from shore. A Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopter, a fixed-wing Buffalo aircraft from 442 Squadron in Comox and a U.S. tugboat also assisted in the search.

    Greg Roy, a member of the Port Renfrew Volunteer Fire Department, stood on an outcropping of rocks scanning the waves for a glimpse of the missing man. Roy said the tide had been rushing in when the accident happened and the waves had been about three metres tall.
    "I feel sorry for that guy," he said, as the waves smashed into the shoreline.

    Dale Steinke and Doree Armstrong of Seattle were planning to go hiking when they saw the ambulance in the parking lots with its lights flashing and heard the helicopters. "We've been spotting for almost two hours," said Steinke. "That's all you can do."

    Deanna Blake who works at the Coastal Kitchen in Port Renfrew, brought hot coffee to the search-and- rescue workers. "Everyone's been told to stay away from the water today," she said.

    The waves subsided and the tide went out. First the father, then the son, hugged the missing man's family.

    The search was called off when darkness fell.

    © Copyright 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)

    I tried to post the photo that goes with this article but it won't take it.

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  • These Next 2 Articles Could Become A Kettle Of Worms Fast...

    Province blamed after surf tragedy Park cuts endanger lives, says searcher at Botanical Beach

    Monday, December 02, 2002

    Debra Brash, Times Colonist / Port Renfrew volunteer firefighter Greg Roy scans the turbulent waters off Botanical Beach Saturday for a 28-year-old Victoria hiker who was swept out to sea and is presumed to have drowned.

    The provincial government is risking lives by withdrawing park ranger services at Botanical Beach provincial park, Port Renfrew volunteer firefighter Greg Roy said Sunday.

    Roy was one of the emergency response crew called out Saturday morning to search for a 28-year-old Victoria man who was swept off the rocks by a thundering wave.

    The man was hiking with a 26-year-old friend when an enormous wave rolled toward them. Despite the pounding surf, the younger man managed to swim back to shore and run for help. His friend was swept out to sea.

    Sooke RCMP have not yet released the name of the victim who is missing and presumed drowned.

    Roy believes keeping people safe on the dangerous West Coast is too big a job for his small town. "The provincial government started it. They put all this money into the park. They improved the road.
    More and more people are coming here because they hear the surf is the thing to see. And now it's really putting pressure on our small community service and we don't have anything to go out there and get people who fall off the rocks," said Roy.

    The volunteer firefighter wants park rangers working year round to explain to tourists how dangerous and unpredictable the ocean can be. He also wants better signs warning tourists to keep away from the lower rocks and tidal pools.

    The provincial government took over the park about eight years ago. Since then, the spectacular marine park, like other provincial parks, has been affected by government funding cuts. Rangers patrol the 47-kilometre Juan de Fuca trail during the summer months. By mid-October, their work is finished.

    Roy is concerned that Port Renfrew does not have a marine rescue service. After he heard the fire bell, he raced to the beach, scanning the horizon for signs of life. There was nothing else he could do. As he stood, with eight-metre waves crashing around him, he noticed a group of young women drinking on the rocky lower beach in the same place where the wave had knocked the two men off the rocks.
    "I had to get them up to safer ground," said Roy. "They think it's safe and the next minute there's a tremendous surge."

    If park rangers can't patrol the beach, Roy thinks the government should consider fencing off the tidal pools and the rocky areas during the winter. "People shouldn't be allowed to wander on the rocks," said Roy. "I went down to the tidal pools after the tide went out to look for the young man's body and I was still scared. I kept a watchful eye on the big waves."

    Maurice Tremblay, a trustee who sits on Port Renfrew's local service committee, said since the provincial government took over the park, the number of visitors has increased from about 40 a year to 50,000 a year. "We are not equipped to go in the water. In fact, no one in their right mind would go in the water on a day like yesterday," said Tremblay. "Our situation is all voluntary. It's not really right that they ask volunteers to go there. Most of the time, it's a hopeless case. It's game over."

    Rather than putting up better signs or hiring park rangers, Tremblay thinks the park should be closed during the winter. "I would say the whole West Coast is not a good place to come in the winter time. It's too dangerous."

    Dick Heath, regional manager of Environmental Stewardship for the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, said he would look into the circumstances of the accident. "We'll look at the level of signage and how effective the message is being communicated and if enhancements are necessary, we'll certainly bring them in," he said.
    The government spokesman said he did not want to speculate on the need for year-round park rangers. "I'm not convinced having anyone on site would have made a meaningful difference," he said.

    Fencing off or closing off areas is usually not effective in keeping people out of areas they are not supposed to be in when they are intent on visiting an area, said Heath. Since Roy moved to Port Renfrew 12 years ago, he has been called out to three or four drownings.

    "It's a growing concern because more and more people are coming out here," he said.

    © Copyright 2002 Times Colonist (Victoria)

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