Two safe after overturning canoe on Bertha Creek

Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2001

It's springtime in Alaska. The days are warm, but waters are not. Running fast, wild and high, tiny Bertha Creek, which runs along the Seward Highway in Turnagain Pass, flipped a canoe late Sunday and put the occupants in the deep freeze.

William T. Edwards, 33, of Anchorage, and his father, Robert K. Edwards, 55, of Lag Range Park, Ill., launched their canoe in the water at Bertha Creek Campground about 6:30 p.m., the Girdwood Alaska State Troopers said. Three-quarters of a mile downstream, the father and son had the chill of a lifetime when their canoe turned sideways, hit a log and overturned, throwing both of them into the water.

Both men got safely out of the water 100 yards downstream from the incident, but on the opposite side of the creek from the highway. At that point, Robert Edwards was too weak from hypothermia to walk back upstream and cross the creek. His son hiked back up the creek, where he managed to cross, reach the highway and flag down a passing motorist who took him to the emergency call box located at Mile 68.

It was about 10 p.m. when the Girdwood troopers received the call. Both Moose Pass and Cooper Landing Emergency Medical Service responded to assist in the rescue. Chugach Outdoors Center responded with a river raft, piloted by Jay Doyle and Scott Hickos. They floated down the river and reached Robert Edwards, who was taken back across the river and treated by the emergency services for hypothermia.

They offered to take him to the hospital, but he refused and was released.

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