Two Peggy’s Cove, N.S., residents who rushed out to the waters when they heard somebody had fallen in on Monday evening, say it wasn’t their first rescue attempt.
“It shouldn’t happen, but it happens,” said Eric Morash, a fisherman from the community.
Around 8:30 p.m., emergency services in the area were notified that someone was in the water at Peggy’s Cove, near the lighthouse.
Rescue teams, including the RCMP, Halifax Regional Fire and Rescue, the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre and Coast Guard came to the scene. Eventually, they pulled two men from the water. One later died while the other suffered life-threatening injuries.
Morash said he heard the sirens and fellow resident John Campbell’s daughter say, “Somebody’s in the water.”
In such a close-knit community, it doesn’t take long for locals to rush out to help.
“We ran to the lighthouse down on the shore and sure enough, somebody was in the water. They were trying to get out,” Morash said.
John Campbell said though conditions were relatively fair, it was pitch dark and there were some waves hitting the rocks. Out of the three boats that were docked in the community, all three were soon out on the water to help, he said.
As rescue crews were arriving, Campbell said local volunteers were around the lighthouse searching, before one suggested they take their boats around the shoals. “He felt that’s the way the tide would take somebody,” he said.
“We went in there and I’d say less than five minutes in there we were able to find him.”
In a release, RCMP said a 26-year-old man from Ontario “was located near the shore.” He was pulled out of the water by fire services.
At the time, Eric Morash said the locals didn’t know there was a second person in the water, “until they said, ‘There’s somebody else in the water.’”
According to police, nearly an hour later, a 23-year-old Dartmouth man was found in the ocean and was pulled onto the CCGC Hare Bay by the Coast Guard. He was airlifted to a nearby base while teams administered first aid, but he was pronounced dead.
Area councillor Pamela Lovelace shared her condolences to the family, and said she was notified that the two men are brothers.
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Morash said the locals and rescue teams did all they could.
“I would say there would have been nothing else we could have done unless there was a chance, maybe (we) could have gotten out there sooner,” Morash said.
“The sea is pretty ruthless.
“You go off of there … the chances of getting back aren’t good.”
While he and Campbell are used to incidents like these, they say it’s never easy.
“Definitely not the first time, and it probably won’t be the last. I hope it is, but it probably won’t,” Morash said.
Campbell agreed. “You have experience, I guess, I don’t know how else to say it,” he said.
RCMP reminded the public to “stay away from the edge of the water, as the water there can be very turbulent.” Such conditions can be dangerous, it said.
— with files from Alexa MacLean