Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Boat captain recovering after failed river rescue

Police continue to search for unidentified man, presumed drowned

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Al Smith, the river boat captain who suffered a massive coronary trying to rescue a man who disappeared into the Red River, is on the road to recovery, his boss said Sunday.

"Our staff was over yesterday to visit him. He’s recovering; that’s the main thing," said Gordon Cartwright, owner of the Splash Dash water-taxi service.

Smith, 65, who had operated a water taxi for the past two years, attempted a rescue Friday when he saw a man fall into the Red River.

He suffered a heart attack just after he grabbed a flotation ring to throw to the man in the water. Smith had just thrown the ring in the water when he had his heart attack, Cartwright said.

Smith was taken to St. Boniface Hospital, where surgeons performed an angioplasty and inserted five stents, Cartwright said. Smith is still in intensive care under close watch today.

With no one located Saturday, police units were back in the Red River Sunday morning searching for the man who went missing in the Red two days ago.

Cartwright said his river-boat operators had taxied by the scene where police divers were focused several times Sunday. "I don’t know if they’ve made a recovery or not," he added.

Police and the river harbour master had a visible presence on the scene just south of the Alexander Docks Sunday. They appeared to be heavily focused at the foot of a rail bridge that spans the Red in that area.

There were no reports of a body recovered from the scene by early Sunday afternoon.

Police searched all day Saturday for a man who went missing in the Red River Friday afternoon near the Provencher Bridge.

The Winnipeg Police Service said an off-duty officer spotted a man in the water "who appeared to be in distress" around 2 p.m. Friday. The officer flagged down a nearby water taxi, captained by Smith, and directed it to the area where he saw the man struggling to stay afloat.

As crew members tried to rescue the man, Smith suffered his heart attack. The identity of the man in the water, presumed drowned, remains unknown.

Woman pulled from water in successful rescue Friday

Cartwright said Sunday that there was a second successful rescue, less than an hour after the first, failed, rescue.

"The second recovery happened about 45 minutes after the first incident. There was an aboriginal woman swimming in the middle of the river... around the Provencher Bridge," he added.

Another of Splash Dash’s river-boat captains threw in a flotation ring, which the woman caught. She clung to the side of the boat as it pulled into the shore.

"She was fine. She climbed out around the Provencher Bridge and walked away," Cartwright said. He said the river boat captain saw Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service crews meet the woman at the shoreline. It looked like she declined medical aid from the crew on shore, he added.

"It was a busy day on the shoreline," Cartwright said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 17, 2014 A5

History

Updated on Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 10:19 AM CDT: Updates as search continues Sunday morning.

1:10 PM: Updates with full write-thru; changes headline.

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