Good Samaritan helps paddlers in distress on the Ottawa River

A Good Samaritan jumped into action on Saturday to help four people who were on paddleboards and heading towards the rapids on the Ottawa River in Ottawa’s west end.

"My boyfriend picked me up on the boat after work and right when we were getting out of the harbour we heard screams of help," said Mikaela Richter, who was near Britannia Beach when the incident happened. "We saw four people on a paddle board heading towards the rapids."

Richter said the four people were headed straight for the Deschenes Rapids when she heard the cries for help.

"We motored as fast as we could towards the rapids to try and grab them before they went over, but unfortunately they were too close to the rapids so I immediately grabbed my phone and called 911," said Richter.

That phone call directed fire officials right to the incident. Officials say the four people fell off the paddleboard in the Ottawa River.

"Luckily all four people were wearing lifejackets so that definitely aided in the rescue of them," said Richter.

When firefighters arrived to the scene, the four people had already gone through the rapids. Richter says she kept her eye on them the entire time, until officials arrived.

The fire crews were able to bring all four people to shore safely and there were no reported injuries.

Barbara Byers of the Lifesaving Society said that wearing lifejackets was a key factor in staying safe.

"Lifejackets are the most important thing you can do to prevent a drowning," said Byers. "We know that by looking at the drowning statistics, 80 per cent of people who drown did not have a life jacket on."

The incident a scary reminder to take boating and water safety very seriously.