Missing boater found near Whati says Jesus got him through 2-day ordeal

A 42-year-old boater who was reported overdue near Whati, N.W.T., has been found and is being treated for 'non-life threatening injuries.' Tony Williah was reported missing on Monday morning.

42-year-old Tony Williah was reported missing Monday morning

Tony Williah is recovering at Stanton Territorial Hospital after he fell out of his boat on Lac La Martre near Whati, N.W.T. He was missing for two days before he was found at about 7 p.m. Tuesday night. (John Gon/CBC)

A 42-year-old boater who was reported overdue near Whati, N.W.T., has been found with "non-life threatening injuries," according to the RCMP.

Tony Williah was found at about 7 p.m. Tuesday night. He had left Whati on Sunday evening and was reported missing Monday morning.

A boat was found on the shore of Lac La Martre Monday afternoon with no one inside it.

Williah was found about 15 kilometres from where the boat was discovered, after more than 48 hours alone in the bush.

He was taken to the local health centre for a medical assessment, according to the RCMP, and is now at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.

"My stomach's sore," Williah said in an interview Wednesday. "It's gonna take time."

Fell backward into water

Williah said he was reaching for a piece of litter — a plastic bag — floating on the lake, when he fell backward into the water.

He tried to pull himself back into the boat, but his wet, heavy clothes weren't helping.

"I thought I was strong, but I thought not."

Williah said he had brought rain pants, a rain jacket and an axe with him, tied in a garbage bag, before he left his home.

"When I fell off the boat I just grabbed that black bag, that's it."

He managed to swim to a small island where he spent two days on the land. He said he didn't sleep the whole time.

Williah said Jesus helped him get through the ordeal.

Around 40 people, including local volunteers, a Twin Otter from Yellowknife, the 440 Transport Squadron of the Canadian Armed Forces and Whati RCMP, were involved in the search effort.

The RCMP thanked searchers for their "tireless efforts... in bringing this incident to a successful conclusion."

With files from Lawrence Nayally