Rope, paddle board, and teamwork: how a woman was rescued from a N.S. tidal river

Queens District RCMP and the Liverpool Fire Department, with the help of a Good Samaritan, rescued a woman from “frigid” waters in Queens County Sunday morning.

RCMP and firefighters were called to the scene of a single vehicle collision at about 10:20 a.m. When officers arrived at the section of the Mersey river near Morton’s Wharf off Highway Trunk 8, north of Liverpool, they found a pick-up truck partially submerged in the water.

It’s not clear how the truck ended up in the water. The speed limit in the area is 70 km/h, said John Long, Captain of the Liverpool Fire Department. 

The vehicle was at least 10 or 12 meters from shore, Long said, which could be due in part to the strong current in the tidal river.

The driver, a 65-year old man, managed to free himself from the vehicle and get to shore, said Sgt. Andrew Joyce, Public Information Officer with Nova Scotia RCMP.

But there was a woman “struggling” in the water outside the truck, unable to get to shore. She was the 59 year old passenger, said Joyce. 

Mersey River is a tidal river, with strong currents at high tide, Cpt. Long said. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The fire department launched their water rescue boat, but had to put it in the water well downstream of where the accident happened, said Long.

In the meantime, Joyce said, an RCMP officer on scene, took off his vest and duty belt and tied a rope around himself.

Firefighters and another officer held the other end of the rope. A nearby resident brought over a paddle board. The officer used it to paddle out to the woman in the water. He secured her to the rope, and the two were pulled back by the people on shore, Joyce said.

Joyce said the condition of the woman in the water was “very, very serious”, but not life-threatening. She was taken to hospital.

The truck is now “totally submerged”, Long said, and crews returned to the scene Sunday evening, at low tide, to try to find it and retrieve it from the river.

He said what that officer did, jumping into icy waters with winds gusting at 70km/h, was “pretty brave.”

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