Langley Meadows resident Ruming Jiang would like to find the people who rescued him from the Fraser River, so he can say thank you.
It happened during a spring break picnic in Langley’s Derby Reach Park with his wife and teenage children.
Jiang was enjoying his new canoe with his dog Chiu Chiu on Thursday when disaster struck.
“It got quite unstable,” Jiang recalled, and capsized.
Jiang refuses to call himself an expert canoeist, but he isn’t exactly a novice, either, with plans to design and build his own brand of canoes.
And yes, he is aware of the irony and says it’s “funny.”
Both he and his dog were wearing personal flotation devices, but the water was so cold it nearly turned a mishap into a life-threatening disaster.
“I started to swim ashore with my dog while shouting for help, but hypothermia hit me sooner than I expected,” Jiang related.
“In that most helpless moment of my life, I heard someone talking to me on the bank.”
Soon after, a fishing boat came to his rescue.
“Two gentlemen pulled us out of the water, got the canoe and sent us back to Derby Reach.”
Two more people helped when the boat got him to shore, he remembers; a nurse and an off-duty firefighter put him into a rescue blanket, and assisted him off the boat.
Jiang went to emergency by ambulance, and was checked out later that same day.
He recalls Chiu Chiu, a small mixed-breed who resembles a miniature Golden Retriever, shivering when she got to shore.
Emergency crews from both sides of the Fraser River were called to help Jiang.
Maple Ridge Fire Department crews were initially dispatched along with BC Ambulance and RCMP to the shores of the river on Maple Ridge, then to the Langley side, with the ambulance driving over the Golden Ears Bridge.
“It was too chaotic for my family to take note of those who helped,” Jiang told the Langley Advance Times.
Without any of them, the fishermen on the boat, the nurse and the firefighter, and the man on the bank, who got the attention of the fishing boat, and the individual who called the ambulance, he doubts he would have survived.
“I don’t have any idea on how to thank them all, it’s too big a favour to express enough with words, but I guess finding them is the right thing to start with,” Jiang said.
Several days later, Jiang still feels chills, deep in his bones.
“Still feeling weak these days but the recovery is good,” he summarized.
Chiu Chiu “is in good condition as well.”
Jiang’s wife, Qin, has made it clear he must wear cold weather gear the next time he decides to try out a canoe in cold water.
He would like to know “who saved us” and hopes some of them may read his story and reach out.
He has set up a mailbox for that purpose: DerbyReachRescue@hotmail.com.
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