Lake Country rescue effort recognized

Lake Country sergeant will be recommending heroism and bravery awards to as many as 10 people after investigating a fatal car accident...

Lake Country’s top police officer will be recommending heroism and bravery awards to as many as 10 people after investigating a fatal car accident that claimed the life of a Salmon Arm woman last December.

The accident occurred along Highway 97 near the Swiss Lodge when the woman lost control of her vehicle in snowy and cold conditions, plummeted into Wood Lake and quickly submerged.

Sgt. Scott Rempel said several individuals put their own lives at risk in trying to save the woman, including a 30-year-old female banker who was first on the scene.

“This woman dove into the water and went to the bottom of the lake at least four times to try and save the woman.

“I just find it incredible that random people travelling on the highway in those same conditions all attempted to rescue this woman.”

Among the seven to 10 residents who ended up entering the frigid waters of Wood Lake were a 60-year-old man from Salmon Arm, a 40-year-old from Kelowna, a female truck driver, two police officers and the deputy fire chief from Lake Country.

Rempel said he will be forwarding his report on the accident and a recommendation for bravery and heroism awards through RCMP channels and eventually to the governor general and the Royal Canadian Humane Association.

“This was a random group of people that came together moments before the official responders could get there,” said Rempel.

“They went above and beyond and risked their own lives in trying to save this woman. It was amazing.”

After four trips to the bottom of the lake, the first woman on scene was finally able to break the window, but she could not remove the submerged victim.

A chain was eventually fastened to the vehicle and it was moved towards the shore, but not in time to save the woman’s life.

Rempel said the actions of the folks trying to save a life need to be recognized.

“It certainly restores my faith in humanity and is really touching.”

The process to be awarded heroism awards through the RCMP can take up to two years. Rempel said many of the people involved are still suffering post-traumatic stress.