Locals awarded Medals of Bravery for 2012 rescue attempt in Wood Lake

On Dec. 19, 2012, Elly Collins of Salmon Arm lost control of her Jeep and went into Wood Lake while traveling northbound on Highway 97. Despite heroic efforts by police, firefighters and passers-by, she did not survive.

KELOWNA - Six people have been given Medals of Bravery from the Governor General for their attempts to save a drowning woman after her vehicle went into Wood Lake three years ago.

On Dec. 19, 2012, Elly Collins, 59, of Salmon Arm, lost control of her Jeep and went into Wood Lake while traveling northbound on Highway 97. Despite heroic efforts by police, firefighters and passers-by, she did not survive.

Kevin Hiebert and Cindy Rogers of Kelowna, Donald Alan St. Pierre of Blind Bay, and Deputy Fire Chief Brent Penner, Const. Carl Stene and Cpl. Michael Loerke of Lake Country received Medals of Bravery at a March 4 ceremony in Vancouver.

According to Gov. Gen. David Johnston’s government website, St. Pierre and Rogers swam out six metres through freezing water to reach the Jeep and break its window and Hiebert, Cpl. Loerke, Deputy Fire Chief Penner and Cpl. Stene wrapped ropes around the vehicle to have it pulled to shore. Once in shallower waters, they were able to pull Collins out.

She was taken to Kelowna General Hospital but could not be saved.

Rogers said in 2012 she wished she could have done more.

"You always wonder how you'll react. I can walk away proud to have kept my wits about me," she said. "I'm glad I stepped up. It would have been far worse if I hadn't."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at aproskiw@infonews.ca or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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