A Beaconia man and his wife are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a couple who nearly drowned in Lake Winnipeg over the weekend.
Ed Crellin was with his wife Donna Byrne out in the water at Patricia Beach on Saturday when they saw a young woman struggling to stay afloat.
“Her eyes were closed. I think she was going down for the last time,” Crellin said.
Once Crellin got closer, he was able to put his hand out and pull her to safety. She was nearly unconscious and revealed her boyfriend was still out in the water — the couple had gone out on an inflatable couch together, which got pushed out far away from the shore due to heavy winds. He too was pulled to safety.
The woman Crellin saved is 22-year-old Summer Thomas, who sat down with CBC News on Wednesday to thank the couple and share her story.
‘I accepted that I was going to die’
“I feel like I accepted that I was going to die, I guess, and then I thought of him [my boyfriend] and my family and everything and I was praying,” Thomas said.
“The minute that she went into water my heart sank. It felt like the bad scene of a movie,” said her boyfriend D.J. Brotherson
Thomas said all she could see was water and no people — the winds had pushed her even farther away from her boyfriend and the shore and every time she would gasp for air she would take in more water.
“I looked around and it was like nobody could hear me or see me and I kept yelling help but then I would get more water and then I’d try to put my arm up but then I felt like I was sinking and I didn’t want to panic so then I just tried to keep swimming or stay afloat.”
Neither Thomas nor her boyfriend are good swimmers. She doesn’t remember a hand grabbing her but remembers seeing everything go to black and hearing Byrne’s voice telling her she was going to be OK.
“They felt like angels. She tried to keep me alert the whole time. I was fading in and out but I remember feeling pure joy.”
What she couldn’t see was a team on the beach that had assembled, including an off-duty firefighter, RCMP officer and lifeguard who just happened to be at the beach and were trying to come to rescue her.
The lifeguard and firefighter decided to put their own lives at risk as they went out in the water with an inner tube some teenagers had but couldn’t get to Thomas. Then the boat came.
“For them to just appear out of nowhere, a white boat, kind of an angelic type thing in my opinion, it was one of those things where you’re like I couldn’t even begin to tell you the sense of relief,” said Doug Sinclair, the off-duty Winnipeg firefighter who went into the water.
Thomas hopes her near-death experience will cause people to think twice about bringing an inflatable device to the beach.
She said she’s never going to bring one again.
“So much can go wrong so fast, especially with children, and I just don’t want to hear of any more stories that were similar to mine, except they didn’t make it.”
Published at Wed, 18 Jul 2018 16:48:27 -0400