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Raft mishap takes lives of Dutch immigrantís parents

Tragedy on swollen Bulkley River


Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SMITHERS, BC - A family boat trip on the swollen Bulkley River near Smithers has resulted in the death of an elderly Dutch couple. Arie and Hendrika Kalkman drowned when when the boat capsized in the fast-flowing river.

The Kalkmans, both 70, were in Smithers visiting their son Jaap, a local physiotherapist. The younger Kalkman also was swept from the boat, but managed to reach an island in the river. The body of his mother was found nearby, the search for the body of his father was abandoned later in the day.

The four other occupants of the motorized raft, the younger Kalkmanís girlfriend, her two children and a family friend survived the ordeal by hanging on to the overturned raft as it raced down the river. Rescuers, among them RCMP constables and the owner of a jet boat, eventually managed - with the help of the victims themselves - to steer the raft to calmer waters. The survivors suffered from hypothermia in the icy river which now is extra hazardous due to the late spring run-off ; its speed currently is up to 20 kilometres an hour. The river is littered with hidden hazzards such as logs and undergrowth.

Jaap Kalkman emigrated to Canada in 1992. After three years in Fort St. John where he had relatives, he bought an interest in Smithers Physiotherapy Centre. An accomplished fly fisherman, he is a professional guide as well.