Both police and fire officials are urging people to be cautious around waterways after a woman — who was testing the water north of Boulevard Lake to see if her kids could swim — was swept away by Thunder Bay's Current River.
Emergency workers spent a tense half hour searching for her Thursday evening, but she managed to pull herself from the water. The swift current had dragged her about 200 metres downstream before she was able to grab some tree branches and escape the rushing water.
Thunder Bay Fire Service Captain Bryan Dychko, who specializes in water rescue and commanded the rescue effort, said when the woman fell in she "would be moving fast in [the] current … And she could be downstream ... a mile in a heartbeat."
After she pulled herself out of the water, the woman walked through the bush up the river to Centennial Park. An ambulance met her there and took her to hospital to make sure she was OK.
"She was extremely fortunate," Dychko added.
Dychko said he sent rescue swimmers out along the shore and kayakers on Boulevard Lake were asked to keep watch if she was swept into the lake.
The woman, believed to be in her 40s, was scratched and bruised in the incident. Dychko said she may have suffered hypothermia as well.
The event serves as a reminder to everyone that water levels are high right now and people need to stay well back from any river's edge, Dychko said.
"With this flow, it's too dangerous," he said. "When you see the water levels up this high, and the temperature in the water this low, stay away."
Thunder Bay Police sergeant Tammy Reynolds, who was heading up the police efforts, added "with the amount of rain we've had in the last little while, the river is running very quickly and people can get carried under quite easily."