5-year-old girls rescued after drifting out to sea on float toys
Girls held hands during harrowing 50 minutes of drifting out to sea at Northumberland Shore beach
Two five-year-old girls were rescued from the Northumberland Strait Wednesday after they drifted away from the shores of a Malagash, N.S., beach on float toys.
The girls drifted from Blue Sea Beach for a harrowing 50 minutes, until they were picked up by crews from the Wallace District Volunteer Fire Department in a rescue boat about 750 metres from shore, said the mother of one of the girls, Stephanie Thompson.
"It was the scariest day of my life, without a doubt," the Malagash woman told CBC's Maritime Noon.
Thompson said her five-year-old daughter and a friend were on a floating ring and mattress playing in a shallow tide pool near a sandbar while the tide was out.
Because they were playing in shallow water, Thompson said she told them they didn't have to wear life-jackets.
Thompson's older daughter, who is 10, later alerted her that the girls were starting to drift away and wanted to be pulled back to shore.
Mom swam after the girls
When Thompson walked to them, she could see they were quickly moving away.
"So I started to run and I jump in the water and start to swim after them," she said.
The water wasn't as shallow as Thompson expected. She told them to paddle toward her as she was swimming.
"They were just drifting faster than I could swim and I swam as far as I could and then I realized I was not going to catch them," she said.
She yelled out to the girls, telling them she was going to get help and to not get off their floaties.
Thompson wasn't sure they heard her and was afraid it would alarm the girls when they saw her go back to shore.
"Turning around, I just felt awful," she said. "It was a horrible feeling.
"As far out as I was I just knew — and as fast as they were drifting — that there were going to be three of us stuck out here soon."
Girls held hands while they drifted
The girls held hands while they continued to drift out into the Strait.
"Thank God they did not let go of each other," said Thompson.
As she was swimming back, she yelled to her 10-year-old daughter to ask someone to call for help.
Picked up in rescue boat
Several people were arriving at the empty beach around that time, she said. One of them called 911.
A short while later, people onshore could see Wallace fire crews picking up the girls in a boat in the distance. The fire department only recently acquired the rescue boat.
When fire crews brought the two girls back to shore, Thompson said they were both surprisingly at ease.
"As if they just went on a big adventure," she said.
Thompson said one of the girls said she thought she saw a shark.
"I grabbed my daughter and was crying and crying and just telling her how proud I was and how brave they were," she said.
With files from CBC's Maritime Noon