Accident Database

Report ID# 2957

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Accident Description

 Chilliwack drowning victim, 17, trapped under log

Chilliwack Times Published: Thursday, August 14, 2008

A 17-year-old female drowned in the Chilliwack River Wednesday evening after she became trapped under a log. She had been floating on the river with a friend on an inflatable boat when she went under the water and became trapped at about 6:45 p.m. Search and rescue members attended the scene and recovered her body at approximately 7:30 p.m. Police say two brothers David and Clayton Kellum, from Agassiz and Chilliwack, risked their own safety but trying to free the young woman but had to give up as the water was too swift and they were fighting fatigue. The name of the female is not being released at this time. The incident remains under investigation by the Chilliwack RCMP and BC Coroners Office.

Teen drowns while tubing in Chilliwack River

Thu Aug. 14 2008 19:46:15 Darcy Wintonyk,

The Chilliwack RCMP is crediting two brothers for trying to save the life of a teenage girl who drowned in a local river Wednesday night. Police say the 17-year-old girl drowned in Chilliwack River after being swept under by the fast current and becoming stuck under a log. The teen had been floating down the river on an inflatable raft with a friend when she went under the water and got trapped. Mounties say the bothers -- who were on the river at the same time -- risked their own safety to try and free the girl. The pair had to abandon their efforts because of the fast moving current. The RCMP is reminding anyone using the river that the current is deceptively fast - and can be very dangerous.

Brothers lauded for trying to save drowning teen

17-year-old victim 'was white and her lips were blue,' would-be rescuer says Mike Chouinard

Chilliwack Times Friday, August 15, 2008

CHILLIWACK - RCMP are praising two brothers who risked their lives in an unsuccessful attempt to save a teenage girl from drowning in the swift-moving Chilliwack River. The 17-year-old girl's family, who asked that she not be identified, also offered their thanks to Chilliwack brothers Clayton Kellum, 25, and Dave, 30. Clayton Kellum, speaking briefly to reporters Thursday, said he and his brother heard shouting from across the river early Wednesday evening that someone was stranded in a logjam upstream from the Vedder Bridge. The two made their way to the spot where the girl was submerged and apparently stuck under a log.

"She was about a foot under water, she was in clean sight," he said. "That's all we could think about: There's a young girl stuck drowning. "She was white and her lips were blue, but people get saved after stuff like that," Clayton said. The brothers got into the water, trying to reach the girl and pull her out, but couldn't quite manage it, he said. "I was barely hanging on to the tree that she was stuck under," Kellum said. His brother Dave, apparently exhausted, spent the night in hospital before being released.

The brothers have been tubing on the Chilliwack for years without incident, and Clayton said the stretch of the river where the girl drowned is generally safe this time of year -- except right around the log jam. He thought the inflatable dinghy the girl and a friend were using must have capsized. The friend was able to make it to safety. For Clayton, who grew up in Hope near the Coquihalla River, the incident brought back memories from six or seven years ago when his girlfriend fell in the river. That time, he was able to dive in and help her to safety.

The girl's body was recovered by a search-and-rescue team about an hour after the alarm was sounded, RCMP said. She was not wearing a life-jacket, but RCMP said they did not know whether wearing one would have saved her. "The Chilliwack River has claimed many lives in the past. It's swift-moving water," said Chilliwack RCMP spokeswoman Const. Lea-Anne Dunlop. Police and the B.C. Coroners Office are investigating.

The girl's family issued a statement saying, "For the two brothers, we would like to pour out our thanks to them for risking their lives. We know this is a difficult time for them as well. We are sorry for them that their efforts were unable to save her." Clayton said he won't give up tubing on the Chilliwack, but the experience may never be quite the same. "It's not going to feel good to go past that spot," he said. "I feel terrible for her family."

© The Vancouver Sun 2008

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