Two Essex County turbo watercraft enthusiasts can thank Amherstburg’s Canadian Coast Guard and Auxiliary — as well as sheer chance — for saving their lives after an eight-hour ordeal treading water in Lake Erie.
“Lucky,” said Jeff Faucher of the CCGS Thunder Cape — one of the vessels that pulled the two shivering men out of the lake around 12:20 a.m. Tuesday.
Mike Drexler and Jim Oakley
Rescue specialist Jana Lorbetski said the odds against finding the riders were so great that bringing them to shore alive “felt like winning the jackpot.”
The two adult males had attempted to ride one red Honda Aquatrax from Pelee Island to Leamington — a distance of 13 nautical miles — on Monday afternoon.
They lost control of the watercraft and become separated from it about five nautical miles from the mainland.
Only one of the men had a life jacket.
“The other guy, who had no life jacket, was totally exhausted and in more trouble, in terms of hypothermia,” Lorbetski said.
The men had clung to each other for flotation and warmth. Commanding officer Sondi Ryersee estimates just over eight hours elapsed between their fall into the water and their rescue.
“If this had happened in April or May — different story,” Faucher said ominously.
“Wear a life jacket,” said Jim Oakley, unit leader of the Colchester Guardian. “Have a whistle. Have reflectors on your life jacket.”
Oakley also noted the value of having a sail plan: “Let someone know when you’re leaving, where you’re going, and when to expect you back.”
Click below for news articles on this rescue!