A Deadly Crossing
By David Leach
This article teaches us how to make very crucial and potentially life-saving decisions, by learning from the mistakes of others.
This article is about eight adventurers who planned a daring and physically exerting Thanksgiving Day trip to Anvil Island, departing from Porteau Cove, Vancouver. The participants: Cheryl Beatty, Denis Fontaine, Troy Dalton, Jon Bula, Brent Martin, Graham Tutti, Richard Juryn, and Bob Faulkner.
Their goal was to kayak to Anvil Island, paddle back to mainland, then make a 60km bike ride to Whistler. They met in the morning and briefly discussed the menacing sky and harsh winds over the water. None of them willing to even discuss the thought of canceling their trip, all determined to finish it that day.
Unaware that that would be the worst decision of their lives. They successfully paddled to the island, just as it started to downpour. The thrashing waters caused Denis and Cheryl’s kayak to capsize. Unfortunately they were quite a ways back from the rest of the group, but Cheryl was able to catch their attention and Jon and Troy rescued her and brought her to safety back on Anvil Island. Meanwhile, Denis was rescued by Richard and Graham. A couple minutes into their quest to find safety on land and help their hypothermic friend, the three capsize due to an unbalanced load. They were a little over halfway back to the mainland, so they agreed that they must try and swim. As Graham tried to rescue his friends he realized the only way to help them was to help himself. He tried to reach the cove, swimming on his own, leaving his friends behind.
By this time Troy, who was one of the men who rescued Cheryl, had been able to reach a cottage on the island. He informed the owners of what had happened, and the unknown location of their friends on the water. Immediately the family called the Coast Guard, who sent out a rescue team. Luckily for Graham, they reached him just in time. It didn’t take the rescuers long to find the bodies of Richard and Denis. The group was finally reunited, and left devastated by the loss of their close friends. They vowed to each other that all the trips they would make in the future would have their safety as the number one priority, not their stubborn and selfish ambitions to finish another trip successfully.
This article has really made me think about the motives we have to complete a risky task. I learnt an important lesson from this article, that no matter how willing and prepared you might think you are, you have to put your safety first. It could mean the difference between life and death, as proven in this article. The next time I am faced with a decision that is potentially putting lives at risk, I would much rather take disappointment by not being able to complete the activity, then having to see someone pay with their life.
Leach, David. ‘A Deadly Crossing’. Explore, May 2008.