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Prince Rupert family with young children rescued in North Coast waters by RCMP

Vessels engines failed south of Kitimat near Bishops Bay
Const. Brody Hemrich and Const. Gabriel Gravel show an RCMP Vessel used by the Coastal Unit in incidents on the water. A Prince Rupert family was rescued by members of the Coastal Unit on April 30 after their vessel engines failed. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

A city bylaw officer, his wife and three young children were rescued by the Prince Rupert RCMP on April 30 after the engines on their vessel failed in North Coast waters.

Const. Brody Hemrich, media relations officer for the Prince Rupert detachment, said thanks to a satellite communication device, the family was located safely in a much shorter time than it could have taken had the vessel not been properly equipped. The emergency communicator allowed the Joint Rescue Coordinator Centre to pinpoint the exact longitude and latitude of the boat.

The RCMP stated 39-year-old Jeff Easingwood and his family became stranded in the small bay just east of Gribbell Island and Wright Sound in the Monkey Bay Conservancy, which is 25 kilometres east of Hartley Bay and 75 km south of Kitimat, on Sunday.

“Easingwood and his family lost the use of the main motors on their vessel and were using their small kicker motor to propel themselves when that too became inoperable,” Hemrich said.

The Prince Rupert RCMP Coastal Division received a call for help via a subscription-based personal satellite communicator.

“This is a tool that is used to communicate remotely via satellites and is capable of sending SOS signals to report your exact location.”

The RCMP stated thanks to the quick action of the coastal unit officers Const. Jacque Van Wyngaardt and Const. Bryce Saunders, the Easingwood vessel, was found adrift and towed to Kitimat as it was the closest location for service.

“People don’t know the Prince Rupert Coastal Unit exists,” said Hemrich, who is a current member of the division.

“We travel to the communities we serve by boat and seaplane. We respond to all sorts of calls - this one was a little more unique as the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) requested we assist.”

“We are lucky enough on the coastal unit to have some very experienced operators such as Const. Van Wyngaardt, who is a former Canadian Coast Guard member and his skills are invaluable to our unit.”

Easingwood offered praise and thanks to the officers who assisted in helping his family when he “needed it the most.”

“Their professionalism and skills were incredible and they helped get us to safety. They also helped make a stressful situation turn into one where we knew we were in good hands,” the husband and father said.

The Prince Rupert Coastal team encourages the use of devices that can transmit location, such as an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or a remote satellite communicator with the capability of sending text-based messages.

“For those who are heading out for any kind of trip where cell service can be limited, please consider safety plans … [let] people know your plan, including routes and times you expect to arrive is also advisable,” the RCMP reminds boaters.