Stranded 8 hours on Lake Britton sandbar, couple rescued from boat

BURNEY — An elderly McArthur couple whose boat became stuck and were left stranded for at least eight hours on a Lake Britton sandbar were rescued during a technical hoist operation, Thursday afternoon, May 9.

Although a law enforcement boat was sent to the lake to rescue the couple, it broke down and was unable to assist in rescuing the pair. Despite the temporary delay, the couple was eventually hoisted to safety by a CHP helicopter.


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Emergency personnel were first alerted to the boating emergency shortly before 12:30 p.m., when a citizen called 911 to report that a boat appeared to be “high-centered” and stuck on a sandbar. The 911 caller reported that a woman was “yelling and waving her arms for help,” Shasta County Sheriff’s Records Specialist Jenea Ashe later shared with SCNS in an email response to a request for further information about the incident and rescue.

When deputies arrived at the scene they were directed to the south end of the lake near the Lake Britton Dam, where they were able to see the couple’s stranded boat “about 50 yards from the shore.” A deputy used his patrol vehicle’s public address system to make contact with the stranded couple, who reported they were uninjured, but had been stranded for several hours already, had no water or other provisions, and were “very thirsty.”

Based on the circumstances, deputies at the scene requested a boat be brought to the lake to assist with rescuing the couple from their stuck vessel and bringing them back to the shore.

Shortly after 3 p.m., about two and a half hours after the call was initially reported, a boat that was brought to the lake to perform the couples’ rescue reportedly broke down as soon as officials got it in the water. Officers then requested a second boat before contacting CHP’s-Northern Division Air Operations and requesting CHP’s helicopter H-16 respond to the scene to help with the rescue.

According to a sheriff’s log provided to SCNS by Ashe, when CHP reported H-16 had an ETA of over three hours, the department’s H-14 was sent to assist at the scene.

The log indicated the couple was eventually hoisted from their stranded boat and brought to the safety of the shore shortly before 5 p.m., where deputies were standing by and waiting. Exhausted from their experience, the couple was then transported back to their parked vehicle; but their boat remained stranded on the lake’s sandbar.

After being rescued, the couple stopped at Burney’s Dragon Palace, where they shared the story of their hours-long ordeal and rescue with employees and patrons at the restaurant.

“They are safe and well,” Burney resident and Dragon Palace waitress Leilani Tracy later updated regarding the couple’s situation on social media. “They came in to Dragon Palace to eat and rest.”

As the couple ate their meal and recovered from their unfortunate excursion to the lake, Tracy and her daughter, fellow Dragon Palace employee Christa Rose, put out a social media request for anyone in the area with a boat who might be able to help recover the couple’s stranded boat.

“They were such a sweet and beautiful couple and had been stuck on that sandbar for a very long time,” Tracy later told SCNS. “Thankfully, they were finally able to get help and were rescued by CHP’s helicopter.” 

On Monday, the couple called Tracy to thank her and the other Dragon Palace employees for their kindness after the pair was rescued. They also told Tracy that because of the social media post made by Rose, they were able to recover their boat the day before, three days after the incident.

“I’m just so happy that the couple was safe and that Christa’s post was able to help them get the help they needed to get their boat back,” said Tracy.

Contacted after their rescue, the couple said they were appreciative of all the help they received, but they declined to be interviewed or provide any further details about their harrowing ordeal.

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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