A U.S. rafting party of about 1,500 people had to be rescued by the Canadian Coast Guard after strong winds and rain accidentally (and illegally) pushed them into Canadian territory on Monday.
The unintentional American invasion was a part of the Port Huron Float Down, an annual rafting event in Michigan where participants take rafts, inner tubes and other floatation devices and drift down the American side of the St. Clair River. This year, however, things didn’t go according to plan as hundreds of Americans washed ashore in Sarnia, Ontario.
“They were pushed over pretty quickly, and because they had no control over these dinghies and the wind was basically directing them and the current, they ended up over here,” Sarnia Police Constable John Sottosanti told CTV Network.
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Not only did they end up in a place that they hadn’t intended, but, since most of the people don’t take their passports with them when they go rafting, they had illegally crossed the boarder. So, it’s understandable that many panicked when the Canadian authorities were called in.
“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.
Out of fear (and a little intoxication), many 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.
But instead of mass incarceration, the unfortunate “floaters” just got a stern talking-to and were bussed back to the United States.
“Everybody got home safe and sound,” said Carol Launderville, spokesperson for the Canadian Coast Guard.
“This is exactly why we stress the importance of paddles and oars, and not entering the water if you are incapable of maneuvering on your own,” the event’s organizers posted to the Port Huron Float Down Facebook page.
“We want to express our gratitude to the Canadian Authorities for their assistance and understanding with the floaters who’ve unintentionally been forced to the Canadian shoreline,” the post read. “You’ve shown us true kindness and what it means to be amazing neighbors!”