Langley father and son rescued from fast moving Fraser River on Sunday

'The man is a hero in our eyes' says Michael Hampel about boater Paul Murnaghan who helped rescue the father and son off a log boom.

Fisherman Paul Murnaghn (left) is being hailed a hero by father Michael Hampel and son Bradley for rescuing them from the swollen Fraser River on Sunday.

Fisherman Paul Murnaghn (left) is being hailed a hero by father Michael Hampel and son Bradley for rescuing them from the swollen Fraser River on Sunday.

A Langley father and son came out to the Langley RCMP detachment to offer a huge thank you for being saved from certain drowning on the swollen Fraser River on Sunday.

Michael Hampel and his nine-year-old son Bradley were out sturgeon fishing on the Fraser River when their boat’s anchor rope became entangled with a tree and into the boat’s motor, rendering it inoperable. Hampel cut the rope loose in fear the tree was going to sink the boat.

“We were drifting when the current threw us broadside into a log boom and we were sideways,” said Hampel at a press conference held at Langley RCMP detachment on Wednesday.

“I was thinking how are we going to get out this? I knew I had to stay calm for my son,” said Hampel. But he knew the current could capsize them at any time, dumping the pair into the cold water which is full of hazards during the freshet.

Hampel called Langley RCMP 911 to request urgent assistance.

Langley RCMP immediately began to mobilize resources including Fraser Valley Search and Rescue, the Coast Guard and officers nearby who raced to the last known location of the boat.

Const. Niko Geneblaza was the first to arrive at the Fort Langley Marina and took note of a fisher Paul Murnaghan and three of his friends removing their boat from a day of fishing.

He rushed over to them and and asked them to re-launch the boast and help with a rescue.

“We went down stream and thankfully we found them quick,” said Murnaghan.

The Cloverdale fisherman said he wanted to be careful not to crash his boat into Hampel’s and sink it faster than it would have.

“He was an expert at maneuvering in those fast moving waters,” said a grateful Hampel. “The man is a hero in our eyes.”

Murnaghan and his fishing friends managed to throw a tow line and safely brought the father and son on board. They then towed Hampel’s boat to the Haney dock in Maple Ridge.

For Bradley, the experience was “scary.”

They were stuck out on that log boom for 51 minutes, said Hampel. Forty of those were spent on the line with a 911 dispatcher who Hampel credits for keeping him calm.

Murnaghan said these are the worst three weeks to be out on the Fraser.

“Even with life jackets they couldn’t survive this river,” he said. It was his first rescue and “hopefully my last.”

Hampel said he grew up on the Fraser River but can’t event think of going back on it anytime soon.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever been involved in,” he said.

“We wanted to give a huge thank you to all involved.”