June 14, 2018 4:46 pm
Updated: June 14, 2018 6:28 pm

Calgary man lifted from Bow River raft by apparent water devil: ‘Wild ride’

WATCH: When a dust devil moves over water, it’s called a “water devil.” That’s apparently what threw three men from their Bow River raft last week and sent one of them flying in the air. Sarah Offin explains.


It was anything but a warm welcome for Ryan Teslak, less than 24 hours after arriving to his new home in Calgary, when he took an introductory float on the Bow River with friends.

“It was a wild ride that I don’t hope to take anytime soon again.”

The four men were floating past the 14 Street bridge last Friday when they saw wild weather headed their way. The group spotted a dust devil, which moved towards them and started pelting them with rocks.

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Three of the men were flipped into the river. Teslak, meanwhile, took flight.

“Next thing I know my buddies were shouting and I felt myself kind of jolt up in the air,” said Teslak.

“I opened my eyes and next thing I know I’m looking down at treetops, falling down to the river.”

“I’m looking around for our buddy Ryan. I’m like, ‘Where is he?’ We look up in the air and he’s still lingering, maybe 100 to 75 feet up in the air,” recalled Teslak’s friend Evan Perry.

A passing cyclist stopped and called an ambulance for the group.

READ MORE: 1 lifted into the air, 3 flipped into water as wind gust hits rafters on Calgary’s Bow River

“The incredibly sudden and powerful gust of wind passed right in front of me on its way toward the river, before catching the inflatable raft and flipping it. The sight of the rafter flying through the air… is something I won’t forget!” said witness Karen Youngquist.

Amazingly, Teslak suffered only whiplash, a separated shoulder and bruises. He credits his life-jacket for sparing him from further injury, and possibly saving his life.

“I’m so glad he survived and was smart enough to be wearing a life-jacket. Who would think you might need seatbelts, too?”

Dust devils can happen on sunny days when the ground heats up and warms the air above, causing air particles to rise. With the right gust of wind, that column of hot air can start to spin, forming a dust devil.

As the air continues to rise the diameter of the dust devil gets smaller and the spinning intensifies, with winds as high as 120 kilometres an hour.

WATCH: Dust devil spotted near Edmonton high school

When a dust devil moves over water, it is referred to as a water devil.

-With files from Lauren Pullen

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