Windsor

Rescue mission goes awry as Kingsville Fire boat capsizes, strands firefighters

A call to rescue three Americans whose boat overturned in Lake Erie Monday became a rescue mission for the firefighters themselves after the department's boat capsized, leaving the firefighters stranded in the water for two hours and with mild hypothermia. 

As the department dealt with 2 capsized boats, a house was also struck by lightning

A boat with three American occupants capsized Monday due to strong winds, rain and high surf. During the rescue mission, Kingsville Fire's boat also capsized, leaving firefighters stranded. (Submitted by Colchester Guardian Rescue)

A call to rescue three Americans whose boat overturned in Lake Erie Monday became a rescue mission for the firefighters themselves after the department's boat capsized, leaving the firefighters stranded in the water for two hours and with mild hypothermia. 

On Monday, heavy rain and strong wind, along with high and erratic surf tossed three American boaters into the water and scattered them across the east side of Kingsville's dock, the town's Fire Chief Chuck Parsons told CBC News Tuesday. 

The U.S. Coast Guard sent out a helicopter for an aerial view and the Ontario Provincial Police and EMS were also on scene to assist. 

Within 30 minutes the passengers, who were wearing personal flotation devices, were rescued from the waters but Kingsville Fire's own members were now caught in the tide. 

"It's probably one of the worst day in the chief's life to to hear that call out," Parsons said of hearing his own crew needed rescuing. "We knew that they were equipped ... They had the proper training to do it."

Making matters more chaotic, at the same time the department was rescuing the firefighters in the water, the department got a call that a home was on fire after being struck by lightning. 

Ultimately, both firefighters were pushed to shore by the waves and pulled out of the water. 

The firefighters were released from hospital with mild hypothermia and the American passengers were released without injuries, Parsons said. 

Kingsville fire Chief Chuck Parsons says hearing that your own members have capsized is a call you never want to get. But, he says he's proud of the way his team responded to the incident and is glad everyone is safe. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"It's absolutely horrible," Parsons said. "I'm happy that everyone was able to walk away, but again, it's gut wrenching for my firefighters to have to do this, it's a high stress situation and I really feel for them to have to go through that." 

"They had the most adverse conditions and they really stepped forward. They did exactly what we asked them to do, they did an amazing job," he said. 

Since the passengers of the boat were from the U.S., the crew also flagged this rescue to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to ensure proper safety precautions were upheld. 

Parsons advice to people looking to enjoy the last few days of summer is to always check the conditions and ensure you have the proper equipment, like personal flotation devices, at all times. 

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