RCMP say a group of women and girls were on an organized camp trip and were paddling along the Bloodvein River near Lake Winnipeg on Sunday when a sudden storm approached. They were going to shore when the 23-year-old woman was hit by lightning.
A 15-year-old girl, who was helping the woman pull their canoe to shore, also felt a jolt, said RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish. She "got a pretty good shock" but wasn't injured.
Karpish said the group was well-equipped and managed to send out a GPS distress signal from a safety device. An emergency response co-ordination centre in Houston, Texas, then contacted the RCMP.
Mounties initially asked for help from the military's rescue centre in Trenton, Ont. But officers quickly tracked down an available Manitoba government helicopter. Its pilot was eager to help.
Two officers jumped on board and the search chopper quickly found the canoeists, just before nightfall.
The group was waving frantically at the helicopter when it arrived, about two hours after the SOS went out.
The pilot was able to land in a nearby clearing and the woman was taken to a nearby nursing station. Karpish said she was then air-lifted to a Winnipeg hospital as a precaution.
"She's lucky, very lucky."
The girl remained with the group.
"She felt she was not hurt and wanted to carry on with the trip. By all appearances, she seemed just fine."
Karpish said such remote rescues don't always have happy endings. Several factors, including the group's GPS device and the available helicopter, fortunately came together.
"This was bang-on the best case scenario we could ever ask for. Sometimes everything goes wrong but sometimes everything goes right."
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