OKANAGAN - A dozen locals will be honoured by the lieutenant governor of B.C. next week for the outstanding bravery they showed in three separate incidents in the Okanagan.
WOOD LAKE RESCUE
A family was at a Wood Lake beach on June 29, 2013. Three boys between the ages of nine and 11 were playing in the water near the shore when the wind came up suddenly and the boys began drifting away from shore.
None were wearing lifejackets.
While one of the boys managed to get to shore, the other two were trapped in the current and panicking.
Mother Tracy Klein ran into the water with her husband George and the boys' grandfather Michael Flintoft. Clark Hierath, Rick Albrechtsen and Ben Chrusch found a two-person paddleboat and were pedalling out while Stayton and Wynden Danylowich swam behind.
“When the paddleboat reached Tracy and her struggling son, she managed to push the boy toward it. Stayton and Wynden grabbed him and got him onto the flimsy craft. Tracy was so exhausted she barely made it to shore and needed help getting out of the water,” a release from the Lieutenant Governor says. “The grandfather, Michael, was also having trouble staying afloat and was grabbed by Rick in the paddleboat.”
The third boy was rescued by Hierath, who almost lost his own life in the rescue.
“The boy was panicking and kept grabbing at Clark, pulling him under,” the release says. “Clark was exhausted after the long swim and dealing with the frightened and struggling victim. In one last valiant attempt he swam underwater and tried to push the boy out of the current. Stayton and Wynden arrived and they were able to grab the youngster as he was pushed to the surface. After a quick underwater search, Stayton and Wynden found the fully submerged, nearly drowned Hierath and pulled him up to the paddleboat.”
The body of George Klein, who will receive his award posthumously, was found the next day.
The Silver Medal for Bravery is awarded to; Stayton Danylowich and Wynden Danylowich and the Bronze Medal is awarded to Rick Albrechtsen, Michael Flintoft, George Klein and Tracy Klein. Hierath and Chrusch, who are from Alberta, received their Medal and Certificate at an Investiture held in that province.
KELOWNA BALCONY RESCUE
Two Kelowna police officers will also be honoured at the ceremony next week for helping a suicidal woman off a balcony. For one of the officers, this will be his second medal for bravery.
On July 19, 2014, Kelowna RCMP received a call of a suicidal female who had climbed over the balcony railing of her fourth floor apartment in the early morning.
“She was standing on the edge, hanging on with both hands, but ready to jump,” the release says.
Const. Greg Barnard and Cpl. Jeff Meyers responded to the call and Barnard had to kick the apartment door open to gain entry.
“Cpl. Meyers stepped out onto the balcony and spoke to the distraught female telling her they were there to help. The 20-year-old female had already stepped off the edge of the balcony, hanging only by her hands, with her legs kicking freely.”
The two officers talked to the women until they were able to get hold of her arm and neck and pull her over the railing.
This is the second Bronze Medal for Bravery for Barnard and the first for Meyers.
WEST KELOWNA HOUSE FIRE
A West Kelowna man and two of his houseguests will receive citations for pulling a woman out of a burning house in 2014.
On Aug. 11, 2014, Garry Wingerak was outside his West Kelowna home when he saw smoke coming from his neighbours house.
He and two guests who were visiting ran to investigate and found a two-storey home on fire. They banged on the windows and a woman who was awakened by the noise came to the window. They smashed the window but were unable to get her or her dog out.
“In a now desperate attempt to get the woman out, Ed Haller climbed inside, hitting his head on the window frame. The Rottweiler needed calming before he could enter the room. With great difficulty he got the dog out then assisted the female through the window,” the release says. “The home was fully engulfed in flames but the quick actions of the four men helped save the resident.”
For his brave actions in entering a burning residence to save a woman’s life the Bronze Medal for Bravery is awarded to Eddy Haller. For their presence of mind in the rescue the Honorary Testimonial Certificate is awarded to Glen Hauser, Morris Hauser and Garry Wingerak.
Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon will present the 2016 Royal Canadian Humane Association Canada Bravery Awards at the B.C. RCMP Headquarters in Surrey on Monday, May 30, 2016.
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