B.C. toddler unharmed after floating 12 kms downstream
Published Tuesday, July 14, 2009 9:11AM EDT
A B.C. toddler survived a harrowing ride after he drove his toy truck into a river and was carried 12 kilometres downstream before rescuers caught up with him.
Three-year-old Demetrius Jones disappeared on the weekend from his parents' campsite at the Peace Island Park in Taylor, B.C. near Fort St. John.
The boy, who was not wearing a lifejacket, disappeared Sunday morning at about 7:30 a.m. PT, and was found far downstream more than two hours later after campers and RCMP launched a full-scale search for the boy.
He was eventually spotted by Don Loewen.
"We just kept going down the river watching all the log jams and keeping our eyes out for any sign of the car or the boy," Loewen told CTV British Columbia.
"We spotted something sitting on the east banks that looked like some rocks or an eagle or something."
What the men believed were rocks were actually the black tires of the overturned toy truck sticking out from the water.
"And what we thought was an eagle or something was the little boy's blond head sticking up there," he said.
Jones was clinging to the top of the overturned battery-powered toy car in about three metres of water.
The boy, who was only wearing a diaper and T-shirt, was wet from the knees down but was otherwise OK.
After spotting Jones, Loewen and the four other men in his boat approached slowly and cautiously to avoid tipping the improvised raft.
"I shut off the boat and I jumped into the water and swam over to him and the boys idled up to him with the boat and we pulled him in," Loewen said.
"We started wrapping him in our floating coats and started rubbing him and rubbing him until he got warm."
The group called his parents on the way back to the campsite.
Police said the toddler seemed unaware of the danger he had been in, said Const. Jackelynn Passarell of the Fort St. John RCMP.
"Speaking with the members, he seemed pretty excited to be dealing with the police. I don't think he really realized the gravity of what had just occurred," Passarell told The Canadian Press.
Police are using the incident as a reminder of the dangers of allowing children to play near open water without adult supervision.
"The Fort St. John RCMP wish to remind parents about the dangers posed by moving water and ask that everyone be vigilant around children playing in or near the water," states a news release from the RCMP.
"We wish to thank everyone who assisted with this search, which inevitably lead to a happy ending to what could have been a very sad incident."