Clallam: Joyce scouts rescue couple from British Columbia river

JOYCE — For the second time in a year, Boy Scout Joseph Kubalek is a hero.

Last year, he rescued a woman who fell into Lake Crescent.

Last week, he and scout Robert Grooms pulled a Calgary, Alberta, man out of a raging British Columbia river after his canoe flipped.

The man had been in the frigid water of the Cariboo River for more than four hours when Kubalek, 18, and Grooms, 17, reeled him into their canoe.

Kubalek and Grooms were in the lead of six canoes traveling down the Cariboo River between Isaac Lake and Lanezi Lake when they found the victim July 18.

The victim, whose name Canadian authorities did not release, was clinging to a partially submerged tree in the river.

“I thought it was a head at first, but it wasn't moving. Then I thought it was a tarp,” Kubalek said. “Then I saw a head and a leg and realized it was a person.”

The pair dug their paddles into a sandbar and turned their canoe around, getting close enough to pull the victim in at about 3:30 p.m.

He had been in the river since the canoe carrying him and his girlfriend overturned about 11 a.m.

While Grooms steered the canoe downstream without the aid of his contact lenses, Kubalek began treating the man for hypothermia, keeping him awake and raising his body temperature.

As Grooms and Kubalek were pulling the man into their canoe, six other Joyce Boy Scouts — Jaisal White, Jack Moriarty, Thomas Grooms, John Springs, David Fuchser and Greg Granum — located the victim's female companion onshore downstream and treated her for hypothermia.

The boys paddled downstream to the next campsite, Kubalek said.

Everything was too wet to build a fire, so they set up a tent with a stove inside to get the man and woman warmed up and prevent hypothermia.

“I'd never seen anyone so white in my life,” said Karen Roberts, the wife of Scoutmaster Richard Roberts.

Both of the Robertses participated in the canoe trip.

When British Columbia Parks rangers arrived, they commended the boys, Mrs. Roberts said.

Grooms and Kubalek have been nominated for the Boy Scout's Heroism Award for rescuing the man while at “extreme risk” to themselves.

Kubalek received a Heroism Award earlier this year for his Crescent Lake rescue of Betty Moffett last summer.

Earning a second would be “highly unusual,” Mrs. Roberts said.

And all eight Boy Scouts are expected to receive the Honor Medal awarded for a rescue posing “considerable risk” to a scout's life.

Full details appear in today's edition of the Peninsula News. Click onto “Subscribe” to have your PDN delivered to your home or office.

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