Nanaimo RCMP nab naked man who allegedly threatened potential rescuers

NANAIMO – Police apprehended suspect on Newcastle Island after he refused to be rescued from Newcastle Channel.

A man spotted swimming in Newcastle Channel was arrested after he allegedly threatened potential rescuers.

Police were called at about 8:30 a.m. Monday when a man was reported in distress while swimming in Newcastle Channel near Stones Marina.

Gordie Robinson, coxswain for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Nanaimo, said a caller reported someone thrashing about in the water, so the assumption when his team responded was that it was a person in distress.

The crew from the tug boat Denny II was trying to get the Australian man, who Robinson believed to be in his mid 20s, aboard when the search and rescue team arrived.

“It was not 200 feet from our boathouse, really,” Robinson said. “It was right in front of Brechin Boat Ramp. There was a tug there, the Denny II. Their crew was trying to get him into the tug. He didn’t want to be rescued.”

Robinson said the man appeared to be disturbed, which was thought to be due to a relationship breakup.

“When the tug tried to help him out he got angry with them and when we tried to help he got angry with us too,” Robinson said.

Police on the scene suggest crews let the man, who had already been in the water an estimated 20 minutes, tire himself out before making further rescue attempts.

The man swam to shore on Newcastle Island and fled into the woods.

The search and rescue team ferried an RCMP K9 team over to the island where the dog and handler tracked down and arrested the suspect who had shed his clothes sometime after swimming ashore.

The man was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and checked over before he was taken to Nanaimo RCMP detachment.

The RCMP’s investigation into the incident is continuing.