A pair of kayakers was given credit for saving a man stranded after falling into the Slave River near Fort Fitzgerald Monday.

According to the RCMP, a man was reported missing in the water near the Cassette Rapids at about 5:44 p.m.

The rapids are near the Northwest Territories border towns of Fort Smith and Fitzgerald, which is just a few minutes down the highway but technically in Alberta.

The man, who was not identified, was canoeing with another person on the Slave River near Fort Fitzgerald when they stopped on shore, according to police.”

The canoe started to slip in the water, and the man jumped into the rapids to try to get a hold of the canoe. He disappeared underwater moments later.

Fort Smith RCMP assisted K Division and deployed on site with Fort Smith Fire Division and Emergency Medical Services. Community volunteers joined the search crew.

Fort Smith RCMP reached out to Parks Canada in Fort Smith for a vessel to be deployed, but in the meantime the man was located on an island off-shore.

Fort Chipewyan RCMP and K Division (Alberta RCMP) Member Operational Support Section (KMOSS) reached Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Cold Lake, AB, to dispatch a helicopter.

But around midnight, two kayakers who joined the search with a drift boat in tow found the man and brought him back to shore. He was treated for a non-life threatening injury at the hospital in Fort Smith.

“This incident could have had disastrous, unfortunate consequences,” Fort Smith RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Jesse Gilbert said in a press release. “The river in the area is strong and the water is cold at this time of the year. We are grateful for the community members who helped, and our partner agencies, K Division, Fort Smith Fire Division, Fort Smith Emergency Medical Services, Parks Canada and JRCC for their assistance.”

Craig Gilbert

Craig is an award-winning journalist who has worked in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. He should be at least six feet away from you at all times.

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