Hundreds of Americans wash up illegally in Canada after river party

Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:23pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - About 1,500 Americans floating down a river that separates the United States from Canada had to be rescued from the water when strong rains and winds sent them illegally into Canadian territory, the country's coast guard said on Monday.

The Americans were taking part in the annual Port Huron Float Down on Sunday in the St. Clair River, which runs between the U.S. state of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.

The winds blew the flotilla of inflatable rafts and inner tubes off course and toward the Canadian shore. Some rafts deflated, spurring a rescue effort by the Canadian Coast Guard as well as federal and provincial police, coast guard spokeswoman Carol Launderville said in an email.

Most "floaters" had to be rescued from the water, with many towed to shore, according to the coast guard.

"They were terrified of entering another country without documentation. No one carries their passport or any ID, and a lot were drinking alcohol," Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the coast guard, told CBC television.

Some tried to swim back to the United States.

"We had to pull a lot of people out of the water and say 'no,'" Garapick said.

The Americans were gathered at Sarnia, Ontario, and bussed back to the United States by the city's public transit.

Sarnia police did not say whether anyone was charged in the incident and there were only minor injuries reported.   Continued...

 
A Canadian Coast Guard ship tows floatation devices used by U.S. partiers to the Canadian side of the St. Clair River between Michigan and Ontario on August 21, 2016. Canadian Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters