St Clair River Float Down Disaster: 1,500 Drunk US Citizens Illegally Drifted To Canada

St Clair River Float Down Disaster: 1,500 Drunk US Citizens Illegally Drifted To Canada
St Clair River view james / Flickr CC
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More than a thousand Americans flowed illegally and unexpectedly into Canada on Sunday.


The incident occurred during the annual Port Huron Float Down, an event where people float down St. Clair River on rafts, inner tubes and other floatation devices. Suddenly, strong winds blew the participants down river and inside Canadian borders.

“It’s exactly what we saw coming,” Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the Canadian Coast Guard, said, as reported by the National Post.

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St. Clair River Float Down: Weather was ‘almost the worst case scenario’

In 2014, an American died at the event. Despite several attempts by U.S. officials to undermine the Float Down, the summer tradition has continued for decades. The weather conditions on Sunday were “almost the worst case scenario,” according to Garapick.

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A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for the area with winds blowing at 25 to 30 kilometers per hour, reaching as much as 40 kilometers per hour or even higher.

“I think the only thing we were missing was thunder, lightning, hail and higher winds,” Garapick said. “We knew this was going to happen.”

Several Americans lauded Canadian officials for their efforts in rescuing them. One of these individuals thanked the Canadian officials in a letter published in the Observer.

“I wish to personally thank all of the rescue personnel who assisted in the Float Down rescue operation in Sarnia – Officer Allison and other police officers, bus drivers, EMS personnel, private citizens, and everyone else who aided in getting stranded American float down participants back home,” the letter stated. “You all deserve our most heart-felt thanks!”

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St. Clair River Float Down: People participating in event “not mariners”

As reported by CBC News, 1,500 people rode on inflatable rafts, tubes and dinghies in the event scheduled to start at 1 p.m. at the Fort Gratiot Light Station in Port Huron. Due to strong winds the participants ended up in Canadian waters and were unable to return to the Michigan side of the river.

“The people who take part in this are not mariners,” Garapick said. “They don’t look at the wind, the weather and the waves. We knew from the get-go, the winds were going to cause a problem. There’s no question they were involuntarily coming to Canada.”

The participants rescued were shipped back to the U.S. on Sarnia Transit buses.

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