Caught out by fast river

FOR the second time in less than 24 hours, paddlers have been rescued from the Murray River.

A man, 28, and a woman, 26, were yesterday caught in the middle of the river near the Spirit of Progress Bridge.

The pair’s upturned canoe became wedged against a warning sign.

They clung to the metal pole in the fast-moving current as volunteer rescuers raced upstream to avert a tragedy.

Police said the current, flush with releases from Lake Hume, was too strong for the pair to safely swim to shore.

Witnesses said the woman was visibly shaken and had burst into tears when rescued.

The rescue came little more than 12 hours after a 75-year-old grandmother survived by using an air pocket in her upturned canoe after she capsized near Bonegilla Island, upstream from the Albury Waterworks on Thursday.

Albury and Border Rescue Squad’s Paul Marshall said yesterday’s stranded pair had done everything right after the canoe tipped.

“They remained calm, they stayed with the boat and they took instructions,” he said.

“There is some signage near the Spirit of Progress Bridge pointing to underground cables and it seems they have been caught up as they came around the bend and the boat was trapped against the pole.

“But they were able to climb onto the top of the upturned canoe and stay dry.

“The water was flowing pretty quickly around there so we had to juggle the boats to make sure we didn’t knock them off the canoe but it was all good in the end.

“It’s a terrifying experience being caught in the middle of the river. And the woman had a moment once the adrenaline wore off and she realised the danger she had been in out there, how close she came to being hurt and perhaps worse.”

The pair were part of a three-hour paddle group that set off from the Waterworks about 8.30am.

The canoe was hired from Canoe The Murray, the same operators involved in Thursday’s incident.

A Roads and Maritime Services spokeswoman said they were investigating both incidents.

“RMS investigates reported incidents to ensure the master of the vessel and in this case the commercial operator has done everything safely in accordance with the legislation,” she said.

“The operator of the canoe hire business is appropriately licensed and has complied with the requirements to obtain a human-powered Hire and Drive licence.

“The operator is co-operating with RMS.”

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