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Man rescued from partially collapsed White Rock pier

Dramatic escape from collapsed White Rock pier
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Photographer Tim Shields captured this dramatic escape from the collapsing White Rock pier

Crews were called to White Rock on Thursday to conduct a rescue after a man became trapped on the city’s seaside pier.

Victoria Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokesperson Katelyn Moores said a helicopter crew was able to successfully pluck the person to safety just after 3:30 p.m., after a portion of the pier collapsed into the sea in the storm.

WATCH: Global Exclusive: People trapped after violent windstorm takes out part of White Rock pier

Global Exclusive: People trapped after violent windstorm takes out part of White Rock pier
Global Exclusive: People trapped after violent windstorm takes out part of White Rock pier

READ MORE: More than 300,000 without power as windstorm hits B.C.’s South Coast

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“So the damage to the pier and the rough seas were preventing rescue by land and water, so we tasked a helicopter from 442 Transport and Rescue squadron in Comox to respond, they were able to reach the individual and assist them,” she said.

Oren Perry, the man who was rescued, acknowledges he likely pushed things too far on Thursday.

WATCH: Chopper rescue of man off White Rock pier during storm

Chopper rescue of man off White Rock pier during storm
Chopper rescue of man off White Rock pier during storm

He was storm watching on the pier with his wife and young son when the waves started to grow in size. The other two headed back to shore but Perry lingered.

“The curiosity got the better of me and I ended up on the wrong side of the pier,” Perry told Global News.

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“I guess stupid me wandered off to see further down and next thing I know, they were gone and the pier was gone with them.”

Perry’s wife Courtney said despite how perilous the situation appeared, she was actually not particularly worried about Oren.

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“I’m in a dry spot and I’m safe so I was like, ‘OK he’ll be fine until he’s rescued however he’s going to be rescued.'”

LISTEN: Talking to someone who witnessed the rescue:

The whole situation began shaping up around 2 p.m. when a number of sailboats broke free from their mooring due to a powerful windstorm and blew into the pier, according to witnesses.

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The White Rock pier partially collapsed on Thursday during a powerful windstorm.
The White Rock pier partially collapsed on Thursday during a powerful windstorm. David Sharpe

READ MORE: In pictures: Powerful December windstorm blasts B.C.’s south coast

Photographer Leslie Achtymichuk, who lives nearby, said she went to see what was going on when her barbecue blew away in the wind, and saw waves topping the breakwaters in the bay.

WATCH: Global News exclusive: Man rescued from White Rock pier shares his story

Global News exclusive: Man rescued from White Rock pier shares his story
Global News exclusive: Man rescued from White Rock pier shares his story

“Half of the sailboats broke loose and they just started flying in the air a bit and finally slamming into the pier and there was a guy trapped on the other side,” she said.

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Video from the scene showed the boats slamming repeatedly into the pier while curious onlookers stood nearby.

LISTEN: Witness recounts White Rock pier rescue


Eventually, the boats smashed through the pier, stranding at least one person on the far side, said another witness, Darren King.

“It took about a half an hour for the boats to actually break through the pier, like they just kept pounding and pounding and pounding and after about 40 minutes, it just broke a whole section apart,” King said.

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Groundskeeper injured by falling tree in Surrey
Groundskeeper injured by falling tree in Surrey

“As soon as it started to break away, he was stranded and the other guys backed off.”

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Const. Chantal Sears with the White Rock RCMP said police and firefighters have now blocked the pier off to the public.

 

READ MORE: Windstorm battering B.C.’s coast; snow to fall inland

The rescue came in the nick of time.

King said as a second group of sailboats had also broken free and was threatening to damage the pier further.

“So the guy [was] in between the gap and where the boats are going to start slamming against the pier again, so if that goes, he’s basically on an island,” he said.
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The City of White Rock is asking the public to stay away from the damaged pier and adjacent train tracks, warning that the area remains extremely hazardous due to accumulated debris.

The city said it has also closed East Beach due to storm damage.