Hundreds of Americans found themselves in Canada when strong rains and winds sent them illegally to the country, Canada’s coast guard said Monday. About 1,500 Americans floated down the St. Clair River, which runs between Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
The Americans were participating in the annual Port Huron Float Down on Sunday when winds blew the inflatable rafts and tubes off course. Some rafts also deflated requiring some rescue work from the Canadian Coast Guard and federal and provincial police.
“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, reportedly said.
Garapick added that some had even tried to swim back to the U.S. “We had to pull a lot of people out of the water and say ‘no,’” he said.
All the “floaters” were gathered at Sarnia, Ontario and were sent back to the U.S. by bus. Police said that no one was charged for the incident and only minor injuries were reported.
“The Canadian Coast Guard and all partners worked very hard to ensure public safety and to assist those in immediate danger throughout this unsanctioned event,” coast guard spokeswoman Carol Launderville reportedly said.
“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. You've shown us true kindness and what it means to be amazing neighbors!” a post on the Port Huron Float Down facebook page read.
“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. We hope everyone returns home safe.”