A man was forced to wait almost two hours in the Cowichan River for help, after rescue workers found their truck had been drained of fuel.
It appears thieves siphoned gas from one of the Cowichan Search and Rescue trucks, which was parked in a locked compound, said search manager Dewi Griffiths. It’s the fourth time in a year and a half that gas has been stolen by thieves slipping through a hole in the fence around the Cowichan Valley Regional District solid waste management facility on Drinkwater Road in Duncan, where the search and rescue vehicles are parked.
The truck had to be refuelled before responding to a call at 3 p.m. on Friday reporting a fisherman stranded in the Cowichan River. The man’s boat took on water and sank about 10.7 metres from shore, upstream from Skutz Falls.
A second man managed to swim ashore.
The man in the river, who was dressed in hip waders and wearing a life jacket, managed to stay in one spot until he was rescued.
The way the boat flipped created a barrier that prevented the man from being washed down the river.
The Victoria man in his 20s was checked by B.C. Ambulance paramedics but was not injured.
Gas was also siphoned earlier in December and twice in 2013. Cowichan Search and Rescue also had equipment stolen from their vehicle in the past, forcing them to keep equipment inside the building, Griffiths said, which adds to the response time.
“So because of theft, it delays our staff because we have to spend time moving stuff out of the hall and loading the trucks,” Griffiths said. “It’s just unfortunate that people are doing this thing to a volunteer organization. It’s taking away from the resources we use on rescue equipment.”
There are security guards around the compound and Griffiths said North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are aware of the thefts.