A trio of emergency personnel from Lake Country as well as three individuals were recognized last week by the governor general of Canada with Decorations for Bravery for their attempts to save the life of a woman whose vehicle plunged into Wood Lake in December 2012.
Lake Country RCMP corporal Michael Loerke (retired), Lake Country constable Russell Stene and Lake Country deputy fire chief Brent Penner, along with Cindy Rogers and Kevin Hiebert, of Kelowna, and Blind Bay resident Donald St. Pierre, were all honoured with Decorations for Bravery from the governor general.
All six of them put their own lives on the line on a frozen evening in December 2012 when a Jeep went off the old Highway 97 and into Wood Lake, submerging in freezing water.
“Everyone involved worked so hard in the rescue trying to achieve a successful outcome,” Penner had said about the accident. “I was most impressed by the valiant efforts of passing motorists that stopped to help, with little regard for their own safety.”
Stopping at the scene of the accident, Rogers and St. Pierre swam out six metres through the freezing water to reach the jeep and attempt to break its windows. Multiple attempts were made to break the windows of the vehicle which had been submerged in about two metres of water.
Hiebert, Loerke, Penner and Stene wrapped ropes around the vehicle to have it pulled to shore. Once in shallower waters, they were able to pull the victim out, but sadly, she did not survive.
“I just thought if someone is in the car I have got to get them out,” said Rogers of the accident. “It was as simple as that. I just think it’s what everyone would do. Faced with that situation again, I would do the same thing.”
Rogers had previously been awarded a silver medal for bravery while 11 others who were at the scene were also honoured by the Royal Canadian Humane Association.