NEWS
11/11/2011 05:06 EST | Updated 01/11/2012 05:12 EST

Lone Survivor In Manitoba Boating Mishap Helps Searchers

CP

The sole survivor of a boating mishap in northern Manitoba says there was nothing he could do to try to save his friends.

"I was on the rocks, standing, and I saw them waving their hands and they were screaming," Patrick Day, 21, told CBC News on Friday.

He said he struggled through the frigid water to make it to a snowy shore, then spent two days and two nights in a makeshift shelter without fire, food, shoes or dry clothes.

Day said he gathered sticks and branches, the only materials available, to make a shelter. But it wasn't the shelter that was as important as the work, which focused his mind and kept him moving.

"I had to keep myself busy all day," he said.

On Friday, he returned to the area where his friends disappeared to join the recovery mission.

Day said he can't stop thinking about what happened.

Those missing include a 15-year-old girl, Shayene Keno, and two males, Kurt Keno, 21, and Jordan Day, 15.

The group set out to cross from Garden Hill First Nation to Wasagamack First Nation on Nov. 4.

After their boat became stuck in rapids on Island Lake River, they remained aboard for a night and most of the next day before attempting to swim to the nearest shore.

Only Patrick Day made it.

The RCMP were advised on Nov. 7 that the foursome never made it to Wasagamack.

However, it was too dark to begin a search.

Police and area residents in boats, along with officers in a chartered helicopter, began searching on Nov. 8.

The foursome's empty boat was spotted stuck in rapids on the Island Lake river at Pelican Rapids, about a 45-minute boat ride north of Garden Hill.

A short while later, Patrick Day was rescued nearby.

Searchers have been out scouring the area every day and were out at first light Friday morning.

So far, all that's been found are some articles of clothing recovered Wednesday and Thursday near the rapids.

As many as 250 volunteers have joined in the search and have set up a mini camp on a rocky point near the rapids where the boat became stuck.

People have been searching the shorelines, praying, and trying to comfort each other.

The tragedy has played heavily on the community of Garden Hill, but it has also brought them and several other First Nations together.

Among the volunteers that have come out, are people from surrounding communities and as far away as Sandy Lake, Ont.

But the weather is starting to become a factor.

It was snowing Friday and the temperatures are below zero, meaning the freeze-up is not far away.

Garden Hill and Wasagamack are both situated on Island Lake, about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.