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Stranded Fraser River fishermen ferried to safety in Chilliwack rescue group’s largest rescue ever

Recreational anglers line Peg Leg bar along the Fraser River in Chilliwack during the large sockeye run in 2010. - Paul J. Henderson/FILE
Recreational anglers line Peg Leg bar along the Fraser River in Chilliwack during the large sockeye run in 2010.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson/FILE

Stranded on a Fraser River sandbar, three dozen fishermen were ferried to safety Wednesday by Chilliwack Search and Rescue.

The group had waded across the Fraser to Peg Leg Bar, a popular local fishing hole for spawning sockeye salmon.

“They had waded across knee-deep water to get there, then the bottom of the bar blew out and they would have had to cross a stretch of river nine feet deep,” said Doug Fraser, search manager with Chilliwack SAR. “Maybe a very strong swimmer could have made it, but it would have been very risky.”

Instead, a Chilliwack SAR jet boat raced to the scene, equipped the stranded group with lifejackets, and four more rescue vessels were used to ferry them back to safety.

“It could have been a lot worse,” said Fraser. “We’re just thankful that no one was trying to wade across when the sandbar blew out.”

Peg Leg Bar is located on the Fraser River, about 10 minutes by vehicle from downtown Chilliwack.

With the current sockeye run filling the Fraser, hundreds more fishermen on the still-intact portion of the bar watched the drama unfold starting at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

“Everybody was OK,” Fraser said after the largest rescue operation in Chilliwack SAR history. “We’re thankful for that.”

iaustin@theprovince.com

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