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Surrey man honoured for boat rescue

Surrey
Surrey's Paul Murnaghan received an award from the Lifesaving Society for helping rescue a man and son on the Fraser River last spring.
— image credit: PHOTO BY BYRON KAGAWA

Surrey fisherman Paul Murnaghan and a couple of friends were pulling his boat into dock last May after a day on the water when he noticed a police officer approaching.

Murnaghan was concerned. Was he about to get a speeding ticket?

That wasn’t the case at all, it turned out.

Instead, the RCMP constable asked for Murnaghan’s help and they were quickly back on the Fraser River, heading downstream in search of Mike Hampel’s boat.

Hampel and his then-nine-year-old son Bradley were enjoying a day of fishing near Derby Reach in Fort Langley when a submerged log became caught on the anchor line of their 19-foot Bayliner. The line then became entangled in the prop and Hampel was forced to cut it, sending the boat drifting powerless down the fast-flowing Fraser.

After been carried down river, Hampel’s boat bounced into a log boom, trapping them against the logs. The force of the current caused the boat to tilt sideways and it was on the verge of capsizing and throwing Hampel and his son into the freezing, fast-moving river.

Hampel had managed to call 911, but admits thoughts of he and his child drowning crossed his mind.

“That was one of our fears for sure,” he recalled later.

But Murnaghan’s jet boat pulled up just in time. With some skillful maneuvering, he managed to edge his boat bow-to-bow with Hampel’s, allowing them to bring the father and son safely aboard.

They were also able to save Hampel’s boat, tying a tow rope to it and pulling it away from the log boom.

Murnaghan was among 23 recipients of awards from the Lifesaving Society at the 102nd-Annual Honour & Rescue Award ceremony – meant to honour heroism and bravery of aquatic rescuers – held on Saturday (March 29) in Vancouver.

Murnaghan received a Silver Medal for Merit, an award which, according to the Lifesaving Society, “acknowledges meritorious service in saving a life during a water rescue.”

 

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