With winds gusting to 64 kilometres per hour, two-metre waves, high tide, crashing logs and four young women trapped at the bottom of a 60-metre cliff, Campus Security knew they were in for a challenging night.
At 7 p.m a soaking wet and very shaken 15-year-old girl had found her way to the Patrol Office window. She needed help for three friends trapped by the tide and rolling logs on a small stretch of shore south of Tower Beach.
A rapid change in the winds had caught them off-guard. Their 15-foot aluminum boat had hit a rock, throwing them into the water.
Emergency services were called and while communications operator Sherry Sullivan attended to the distraught girl, acting shift supervisor Andy Murphy headed for the cliff with fellow members of the patrol team, Russ Potter, Derek Kane, Joe Boyar, Lee Hirst and Steve Morris.
"Logs were being thrown against the rocky shore," says Murphy. "You'd have to see it to believe how rough it was that night."
The team found the young women cut off by the cliffs and the sea. One was injured. Darkness was approaching.
Within 20 minutes the Canadian Coast Guard's Hovercraft arrived but could not land. Waves shoved it into shore where overhanging tree branches became tangled in the propeller blades and the engines took on water. It had to abandon the rescue.
It was dark now, but the tide was going out.
"We decided to scramble over the logs to reach them," says Murphy.
Dodging waves and picking their way over slippery logs patrol members brought the two uninjured women to safety.
Firefighters, ambulance service workers and two patrol members waded through knee-deep water to get the remaining injured boater onto a stretcher, over logs and rocks, and up the cliff.
"When the high-tech equipment didn't work out," says Murphy, "we just had to work together to get the job done. Any other patrol would have done the same."
Two of the four victims were taken to hospital and later released. The remaining two were picked up by their parents.