|Nanook's Campfire Tales|
|Tragedy on the Nepisiguit|
A trip to the great outdoors in northern New Brunswick turned tragic this past weekend when a couple from Ontario drowned during a canoe trip.
Johnny Boucher, 31, and his wife, Bonnie Kerr, 28, of Barrie, Ont., died when their canoe overturned on the Nepisiguit River near St-Quentin.
The pair leaves behind an eight-month-old daughter.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Gary Cameron said Mr. Boucher and Ms. Kerr were in one of nine canoes travelling as a group on the river on Saturday.
He said the group ventured into an area on the river where Mr. Boucher and Ms. Kerr's canoe struck a tree growing out of the riverbank. The canoe tipped, throwing the couple into the river.
Mr. Cameron said the swift current and strong undertow pulled the pair underwater, and their companions were unable to reach them and pull them up for nearly an hour.
Mr. Cameron said only one of the victims was wearing a personal flotation device, but declined to say which one.
The Nepisiguit River extends from Mount Carleton to Bathurst, and is a popular river for canoeists.
Ken Corbett, a New Brunswick recreational canoeing enthusiast who has paddled the Nepisiguit and operates a Web site dedicated to canoeing in New Brunswick, said such accidents in New Brunswick are very rare, particularly on the Nepisiguit.
However, he said, finding a tree across the waterway, the situation that led to Mr. Boucher and Ms. Kerr's drowning, is one that experienced canoeists dread.
"That is, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous situations about canoeing - a fallen tree. It usually happens around a quick turn and you don't have time to react.
"It's a helpless situation," he said.
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After many years of canoeing our NB rivers I was recently involved in a terrible tragedy. The best way I can think of to honour the memories of our lost paddling companions is to take some lessons from this and pass them on.
Johnny Boucher and Bonnie Kerr were victims of an unfortunate accident June 7th on the Nepisiguit River. One of them was not wearing a life jacket and was a strong swimmer and former lifeguard.
WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKETS ON THE RIVER.
If our group had been all together and not separated at the time of the accident there would have been more help available when they tipped.
STAY together with your group, especially if there are inexperienced canoeists with you, and especially in rough water.
This accident was a huge tragedy but if any lives can be saved by learning from this it won't be a total loss. There are rules to follow on the water, and we are all safer if everyone follows them.
Have a safe summer on the river and remember the rules.
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