coming back alive
Swept to His Death 

A young boy's sense of adventure eventually led to his death, as he found himself in circumstances that were over his head. 13-year-old Rhys Jones was swept to his death after rafting on a hazardous river, swollen by rain.

Although he had never been rafting before, Rhys was one of four boys who got into the river after making a raft out of building materials.One of the boys described how Rhys got onto the raft first. "The river was very different from what it was in the summer," he said. "The water was higher and the current was faster and stronger than usual. It crossed my mind that we shouldn't go in but we did anyway."

Rhys Jones
Rhys Jones was only 12 when he was swept to his death.

The boy explained how the current was too strong and the raft "started to bounce in the water". In the panic that ensued, one of the boys managed to get out of the water and scramble up the steep banks to raise the alarm. 

The three other boys were carried down the river. Two of them got to dry land, but Rhys continued down, and was eventually pulled out by David Hawke, who had arrived on the scene to help the boys. Explains Mr. Hawke: "Rhys didn't show any obvious signs of life and his lips had turned blue." 

The thought of floating down a river on a homemade raft would have generated a sense of adventure to Rhys and his friends, to which any sense of danger would have been subverted.

Because he was not wearing a life jacket and was unable to fight against the current of the strong river, the death of Rhys Jones seems sadly inevitable. A momentary lack of judgment, combined with a youthful sense of invincibility often results in a tragic and entirely preventable loss of young life. 

Wearing a lifejacket won't keep you from having a good time - SO BUCKLE UP!
A Mother's Selfless Act

A family vacation turned tragic after a woman died trying to save her three children from drowning in a river in Peru. Bridget Riedl-Laing had taken her three small children, aged four, two and one on a canoeing trip down the Vilcanota river as part of a family adventure holiday that had taken them through North and South America.

For the first part of their trip the river was calm, but about 7 km downstream, their inflatable canoe capsized.  Bridget’s husband, Rupert, saw the accident from the bank of the swollen river, but was unable to get help in time. Bridget was able to rescue the children, but before she could save herself, she was swept downstream by the rapids.

A calm river can soon become terrifying rapids further downstream.
All the children were wearing life jackets at the time of the accident but their mother was not. One of the children reported seeing their mother clinging to a rock soon after the accident, but by the time rescue workers arrived, there was no trace of her. While Bridget’s actions were certainly selfless and heroic, her refusal to wear a lifejacket means that her children will grow up with their own lives as their main tribute to their mother’s memory
5 Myths About Lifejackets
Myth 1: They believe there is a low risk of drowning; they are experienced boaters, strong swimmers, in shallow water, close to shore etc.
Reality: Anytime one goes near water, there is always a risk of drowning, regardless of experience or competency
Myth 2: PFDs restrict movement and interfere with activities.
Reality: PFDs can be comfortably be worn over bathing suits or clothing.
Myth 3: PFDs are uncomfortable; too bulky, too hot/cold etc.
Reality: Many PFDs available are very thin and lightweight.
Myth 4: PFDs are unattractive.
Reality: PFDs now come in a variety of attractive colours and fashionable styles. A body bag is not quite so stylish.
Myth 5: Wearing a PFD is a sign of fear, and shows a lack of confidence.
Reality:Wearing a PFD is not a sign of fear. Refusing to wear one is a sign of ignorance.
Lifejackets and PFDs: Know the Facts

Anytime anyone goes boating, there is always the chance of falling overboard.

A PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is designed to keep your head above water and to help you maintain a position that allows proper breathing, should you fall in.

Most small craft operators who drown do so within sight of a potential rescuer, and would likely have been saved had they remained afloat just a few moments longer.

In simple terms, LIFE JACKETS SAVE LIVES! So why not buckle up? They only work if you're wearing them.



The Sole Survivor

Emma Young is wondering why she's alive while her daughter and three other people died in a boating accident on Lake Winnipeg. The accident happened just off Matheson Island as the group was returning to the Bloodvein First Nation from a shopping trip to Riverton. The boat capsized in rough water.

lake evening

Young remembers calling out to her sister-in-law and the boat operator to grab hold of the boat. She even managed to pull her sister-in-law to the boat three or four times. "The last time my sister-in-law fell to the water, I grabbed her with my left arm," Young says. "She grabbed the sleeve of my jacket. I hung onto her.

We could see the shore already," she says. "I could feel my sister-in-law's hand slipping. I told her, 'Hang on. We're almost there.' Then her hand slipped so I tried to grab her, but the current was taking her. All I could see was her arm."  

Young was also able to get the man who was running the boat to a rock on the shore of an island, but the waves washed him away. She spent the night on the island crying and then swam to two other islands looking for survivors. She was rescued later the next day, although she can't remember that part of her ordeal.

Young says there were no life jackets on the boat.

In a matter of moments, Young lost her daughter, her son-in-law and her sister-in-law, but the knowledge that these deaths could have been prevented will remain with her forever.  
What Exactly is a Lifejacket?
What Exactly is a PFD?
Lifejackets vs. PFDs

What is the difference between a Lifejacket and a PFD?

1. A PFD is less bulky and less buoyant than a lifejacket.

2. A PFD may not roll a person into a position where their head is out of water. A lifejacket will hold the wearer in an upright position and in most cases, will roll a person from a face-down to a face-up position.

3. A PFD is preferred for active sports such as canoeing or fishing because it is more flexible.

4. Canadian-approved PFDs come in a variety of colours, such as blue, purple and black, whereas Canadian-approved lifejackets must be red, yellow or orange. 
Too Cool for Lifejackets

Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Johns was swimming out to a buoy with four friends when he nearly drowned.

"We started out and were doing fine, but the buoy turned out to be further away than we thought. About halfway there, I started getting tired and decided to turn back. I hadn't gotten far before I was so tired I couldn't kick my legs anymore. My legs felt like lead, pulling me down, so I started screaming for help and flailing with my arms. It was so terrifying. I really was drowning out there," Jeremy said.

Jeremy's friends thought he was just joking, and didn't try to help him. Just as he was sinking, two women and another young man jumped in and pulled him back to shore.

"We thought we were so cool we didn't need life jackets. I'm very active in sports, and always swam well, and still it happened to me. You can be a great swimmer, and think you don't need a life jacket, but in certain situations they'll save your life," Jeremy said.

Drowning is a terrifying and traumatic experience.Your lungs quickly fill with water and you are unable to scream for help. Your body becomes starved for oxygen and within less than a minute, you slip into unconsciousness and sink beneath the water like a stone.