Drivers ignoring signs get swamped in Cow Bay

Lieutenant Charlie Brown of Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue assists a driver and his dog to safety after a GM Safari van got stuck in the water of a flooded Cowichan Bay Road on Sunday.  - Andrew Leong
Lieutenant Charlie Brown of Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue assists a driver and his dog to safety after a GM Safari van got stuck in the water of a flooded Cowichan Bay Road on Sunday.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Barricades and rising flood waters didn’t stop three motorists from carelessly using Cowichan Bay Road Sunday — before being stranding in their swamped vehicles.

The soaked motorists entered Cow Bay Road from the Island Highway end, then were rescued during three separate responses by Cowichan Bay and North Cowichan’s south-end fire crews.

The vehicles were submerged at around noon, 6  and 7 p.m., the bay’s frustrated fire chief, Ken Bulcock, explained. The road’s record day of flood rescues burned  precious time of some 35 firehall members.

“We had to rescue people from accidents from stupid mistakes.

“It put everyone at risk to go get them,” he said of the rescues, “and tied up two fire departments for hours on end.”

The rescues were kicked off, early Grey Cup afternoon, when Cow Bay firefighters tackled the first incident involving an older male driver.

The later two saw North Cowichan firefighters use their Super Duck flat-bottom boat to save drenched drivers who failed to follow signs and barricades erected by highway staff with Mainroad  South-Island Contracting.

Bulcock noted Cowichan Bay Road, between the lawn-tennis club and golf course hill, can’t be sealed as residents along the perennially flooded stretch need emergency-vehicle access.

“But signage was all over the place and people were still driving around the barricades when we were performing the rescues!”

At high tides, water levels reached about three feet Sunday, noted Bulcock.

“Once a year we’re out there, but this time it was three times in one day.

“You’d need flaggers to stop them.”

Bulcock was also disgusted a warning sign along the highway, near the Farmer’s Market, was cut and stolen.

Meanwhile, Bulcock pleaded with drivers to heed signage and stay off Cowichan Bay Road when it’s flooded.

“Respect the road signage; there’s a reason it’s there — to prevent a tragedy that’ll eventually happen.”

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Cpl. Kevin Day said no tickets were issued in connection  with the stranded motorists.

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