A razor-sharp lesson on ocean safety in Boundary Bay

Members of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue 5 carry an injured Luke Chandra, 8, from a sandbar to the Vigilant Monday afternoon. Below, Luke at home Tuesday with his cousin James (left) and brother Jordan. - Contributed/Tracy Holmes (below)
Members of Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue 5 carry an injured Luke Chandra, 8, from a sandbar to the Vigilant Monday afternoon. Below, Luke at home Tuesday with his cousin James (left) and brother Jordan.
— image credit: Contributed/Tracy Holmes (below)

Steve Chandra did what he had to do to keep his nephew calm in Boundary Bay Monday afternoon, after the eight-year-old seriously injured his foot on the shell of a razor clam.

“I lied to him,” Chandra said, after paramedics whisked the boy to Peace Arch Hospital.

The Delta resident said he was taking his son, Jordan, and nephews James and Luke, out boating when the accident occurred.

The four were not far out from Crescent Beach Marina – taking advantage of the teachers’ strike day to meet friends at White Rock pier – when their 19-foot “camping boat” became grounded on a sandbar in the channel.

Chandra said he let the three boys swim and play nearby – as the tide continued to recede – to kill time after learning that it would take about an hour for his friend to come get them.

Luke was running to rinse his feet off to get back on the boat when he stepped on the shell.

James, Luke, Jordan“I didn’t really listen to Uncle Steve,” a bandaged Luke said from home Tuesday, referring to instructions his uncle had given to not run.

“I cut it and (fell). I was yelling his name on the ground. At first he was walking, then he saw that my foot was sliced.”

At the scene Monday, Chandra said he didn’t realize how bad the injury was until he rinsed his nephew’s foot off with fresh water and   pulled at the cut to see how deep it went.

“Where he cut it, it went through and through,” he said, gesturing with his hand to show how the boy’s foot had almost been sliced through.

“It was deep. I’m trying to tell him it’s just a cut. (The shell) must’ve been razor-sharp. (Blood) was coming out like a tap.”

Chandra called 911 then remembered what a member of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 5 (Crescent Beach) had told him the day before: to call *16 on his cellphone if he ran into trouble.

Help arrived in about 25 minutes, Chandra said, praising the response of the RCM-SAR5 crew.

While waiting, Chandra said he tied two socks – one of them Jordan’s – around Luke’s foot to keep it together and stem the flow.

At Peace Arch Hospital, the wound was cleaned, stitched and bandaged.

There, Chandra learned how apt his “razor-sharp” description was. He said the doctors told him razor-clam injuries are a common sight at the hospital, but that Luke’s – at about seven centimetres long and one centimetre deep – was “one of the worst ones they’ve seen.”

“It wasn’t too far from going almost through,” he said.

Chandra described his nephew as “so strong and brave.”

Chandra’s wife, Nancy, said the incident has brought the three boys – who were already close – even closer together.

“Both (Jordan and James) said… ‘it should’ve happened to us not him’,” she said.

“I was scared he was going to die,” James, 10, told PAN.

“I could see his white blood cells,” said Jordan, 11, describing a sizable pool of blood.

Chandra said the experience has given him new respect for the beach. He plans to take up an offer by the RCM-SAR5 crew to learn more about boating in local waters – and the possibility of joining the team himself. As well, he’s putting a depth finder on his list of things to buy, to help avoid getting stuck in the future.

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