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Nanaimo teens rescue friend from Departure Bay during storm

A Nanaimo teen spent the night in hospital after wind capsized his kayak on the weekend.

The incident happened about 7 p.m. Sunday when a group of four teenagers were returning from a paddle across Departure Bay to Newcastle Island in a plastic dinghy and two kayaks when a sudden wind whipped up waves that capsized one of the kayaks sending a 17-year-old boy into the chilly waters.

"One of the girls went to get help," said Bryan Porrelli, father of one of the teens caught by the storm.

Porrelli said his daughter Kenzie, 16, and another girl fought the waves and wind to get to their friend. They were eventually able to pull him into the boat and bring him to shore where an ambulance crew was waiting by the time they arrived.

"I don't know how they managed to get him into that little boat without flipping it over in that wind," Porrelli said.

He said none of the teens were experienced kayakers.

In the process one of the kayaks was carried off by the wind along with an oar from the dinghy, which made it especially difficult for the teens to make any headway against the wind to get back to shore.

Gordon Robinson, spokesman for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 27, said the unit's role really became one of searching for the drifting kayak since the teens were back on shore by the time unit members were alerted and arrived on scene.

"They were out there for about 10 minutes and starting to look when we got a report that they had found the kids OK, so that's about all we did," Robinson said. "The wind came up pretty quick, so that didn't help them. You could see it building up in the Parksville area and it just came down here in a swoosh."

The teen pulled from the water was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital where he was treated for hypothermia.

The drifting kayak was retrieved by staff at the Pacific Biological Station and returned to its owner Monday, Porrelli said.

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