Sunday, August 21, 2011

This just (not) in...

Well, Picnic in the Park seems to have been very well attended, I didn't hear visitor counts but the line for the free food (samosas, pork on a bun, sauerkraut perishke, apples and bannock) was as long indicating a good turn out. Locals were in luck because there was also an event just up the road at Mountain and McGregor hosted by the Manitoba Metis Federation (or so I believe) so they had their choice of family events.

Two events stand out from the time I spent at Picnic, neither of which made the news. The first, which actually happened later, is the type of even less likely to make the news, but was indicative of the aftermath of what was a very active "cheque day" here in the North End (I also wonder if cheque day played a role in the incident on Garfield). For those of you scratching your heads as to what cheque could possibly cause an entire neighbourhood to change dynamic, it's the same one you quite possibly got, the Child Tax Benefit (I think that's it's real name - I always think of it by its colloquial name, Baby Bonus Cheque). Unfortunately, when this cheque comes out in the North End, in particular in summer, the place actually resembles the place that suburbanites think exists all the time. Cheques that are intended to cover the extra costs associated with raising children all too frequently end up being spent on alcohol and other intoxicants. This is certainly not to say that this is the case with all North End families, however, like any stereotype, the roots stem from actual events, and a few bad apples definitely spoil the bunch.

Since this cheque day fell on a Friday, in summer, it was was bound to be more terrifying exciting eventful than some of the others. A friend who has been enumerating here in the neighbourhood stopped earlier in the day than usual because things were getting rowdy earlier than usual, the sirens more prolific throughout the night than usual, and the North End seems to have had more than its fair share of stories in the crime section. As a side note to that - this summer has been the most calm in years, or so it seems - even a glance at the headlines throughout this summer has had most of the crime happening in other places, refreshing for a change!

So back to my original story - there was an incident at Picnic involving a knife and a fight of some sort, which is a shame because it's a family event. I wasn't witness to the fight but I would be surprised if the participants didn't still have some of the effects from some imbibing from Friday night.  The other story, which I'm extremely surprised doesn't seem to have hit the news at all, was a dramatic river rescue. Okay, I've never seen another river rescue so I don't know if it was any more or less dramatic than usual but it seems that it should get the dramatic adjective.

Just around 830 Saturday morning, while we were setting things up for the Picnic, there was shouting coming from the direction of the Redwood Bridge. As we all know, shouting in these parts is fairly par for the course, so we didn't think too much of it. A few minutes later, sirens could be heard, ending at the bridge. Thinking that perhaps there was a fight or maybe someone threatening to jump, we continued about our business.  Next thing we knew, a guy came running down the river path with the police in hot pursuit. Then they passed him.  Confused as to what the situation was, we headed down to the river bank.  That's when we could see the head and waving arms and the guy we thought was being chased shouting to the river victim that help was on the way, to just hang on.

The police were nothing short of spectacular in their efforts to rescue the man, I was particularly impressed by the way they didn't hesitate to commandeer the rowboat attached to the docked MS River Rouge (man do my posts tie together nicely!) and attempt to row to save the man. As a spoiler (but a happy one), the man was rescued, so I can then comment on some of the amusing scenes that unfolded with the boys in blue. The officers that jumped in the rowboat looked nothing short of comical in their attempt to coordinate how exactly to row a boat and two of the officers who scrambled along the riverbank lost (and found) items off their belts and I couldn't help but think of those pesky taser cartridges. Another onlooker said that an officer fell in the water trying to get in the rowboat but I must've missed that.

So as the officers tried to row out to the man, who I was told by another man on scene who had run down the river path as well (and I believe was the person to call 911) that he had been in the water from at least Burrows, so didn't end up in the drink by the Redwood bridge after all. It was absolutely incredible how quickly the current moved and how far the man drifted in such a short amount of time.  Ultimately he was rescued (or at least certainly seemed to be - it was too far out at that point to see exactly what was going on) by a what looked like a police motorboat.

It strikes me as so odd that this didn't hit the news, not even as a blip; so here on my humble little blog I will give the shout out to the police officers involved for a job very well done, and despite my amusement at their attempt to row a boat (I'm thinking that the motorboat would have eventually had to "rescue" them as well, that's one heck of a strong current) they were nothing short of heroic in their attempts to save the life of a man who ended up in the river. I suppose we will all just have to guess at the rest of the details, like how and where he ended up in there in the first place.


  1. It's not news because it happens 20-30 times per summer.

  2. Really?? I had no idea - that's news in itself. Did anyone else know that there are that many people who end up in the river every year? @Riverman - how do you know that - is that stat published somewhere that I could look at?

  3. I have further gossip. Stuff I heard about the two events you spoke of.
    First - the man in the water. The story I heard was that a man was stabbed around Burrows Ave and ended up in the river, later to be pulled out by the men in blue near the River Rouge. I got the same story of officers using a row boat, and one falling in, but valiant efforts made. And the person in the water was rescued.
    Second - and I do not like this story one bit. Shortly after the food line started a man was stabbed in the back with a tree branch. Both individuals were in line for food and the one in front was assaulted. I guess the guy didn't get his free food fast enough for his liking.
    Again, this information is second hand. I heard it from a guy.

  4. I live across the river from there and I've pulled many jumpers out of the water, both at my dock and from the boat. Most seem to be pregnant females.

  5. Like Riverman said -- they happen all the time. Police don't release on simple river rescues generally. Unless there are dramatic cirumstances -- a drowning, a very-near-drowning, a child involved -- it's just not a news story.

    Usually in my newsroom, if we hear a river rescue come in on the police scanner, we'll deploy a photographer and keep an ear on the scanner to see how it develops.

    The vast majority of the time, rescuers have the person up and out of the river before a photog can even get there (which is usually fast), so there's really no story to be had.

  6. Wow, I really had no idea - I guess in my mind every river rescue has an aura of drama about it; especially since when they do make the news there is usually that extra element. I will just keep the image in my mind of the cops trying to row the boat and the comedy of that scene - and worry about all the people who apparently end up in the river!