Osoyoos RCMP area commander Sgt. Kevin Schur said two women and a man had been drinking late at night when they decided to jump off the bridge on Main Street in Osoyoos, just before 1:43 a.m. PT Sunday morning.
The three were swept out into Osoyoos Lake, far from shore toward Haynes Point, and began screaming for help.
"The three were in distress as they were under the influence of alcohol and were not wearing life jackets," Schur said in a written statement.
Tourists from Lower Mainland, Cariboo to the rescue
A Burnaby man had a boat close by and two Osoyoos RCMP officers summoned him to help. He joined a police boat to search the lake.
Meanwhile, three men — from Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Forest Grove — heard the screams from shore and paddled out in a dinghy. They pulled one of the women, a 24 year old from Grand Forks, from the water as the two other boats arrived.
A life vest was thrown to the man, a 28 year old from Kelowna, who was struggling to stay afloat.
The other woman, a 28 year old from Kelowna, was clinging to the side of the dinghy and was pulled into the Burnaby man's boat.
The police boat arrived and pulled the man to safety and transferred everyone from the dinghy aboard.
Schur said BC Ambulance crews met them on shore and released the three swimmers. They were cold, but otherwise uninjured.
"The three subjects are very fortunate to have been located and rescued in the dark. The strong current had pushed them far out into the lake and more than half way to Haynes Point," Schur said.
"Alcohol and water are a bad combination and had it not been for the quick response and efforts from the men from shore with the dinghy, the private boat operator, Osoyoos RCMP officers and police boat, this could have ended in a triple tragedy."
Schur said that police want residents and visitors to take precautions and be sensible around B.C. waterways, especially over the long weekend, to prevent tragic outcomes.
Whitehorse man drowns in Wood Lake
Already, on Saturday afternoon, a 42-year-old man visiting from Whitehorse drowned in Wood Lake, between Vernon and Kelowna in the Okanagan region.
- Whitehorse man drowns in B.C. while trying to save children
Police say the man swam out with other family members who went after three boys, aged nine to 11, who had been swept out into the lake by currents from a nearby creek outlet.
The boys and the other family members made it safely aboard a nearby paddle boat but the man, who was father to two of the boys, disappeared under the water's surface. Search and rescue crews found his body several hours later under five metres of water, about 15 metres from the shore.