Kelowna Mountie braves wintery water to save local woman

A Kelowna Mountie is being hailed for his bravery after saving a woman from Okanagan Lake last week.

The Kelowna RCMP received a report of a distraught woman on the William R Bennett Bridge who apparently intended to jump at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 27.

"Police located the 21-year-old Kelowna woman at the peak of the northbound side, clinging to the outside of the passenger walkway," said Const. Kris Clark.

"The first officer on scene attempted to negotiate with the woman but she was not interested and eventually pushed herself towards the darkness below. The woman fell feet-first into the lake and appeared uninjured as she soon surfaced and began to tread water. Two officers removed the rear seats from their police vehicles and dropped them down to the woman for floatation but she seemed to have other intentions and swam away."

Meanwhile, Corporal Matt Hare, with the help of a Protrans WRB Bridge employee, had made his way down to the water's edge on the West bank and, watching the woman's interactions as well as her increasingly laboured movements, determined a different kind of intervention was required. Hare entered the wintry water and swam strongly to the woman's aid.

Gathering up one of the floating foam seats, Hare pulled the woman to shore. Cpl Hare and the Protrans employee carried the woman up to the roadway where both she and Hare could be treated for hypothermia.

"After seeing the woman swim away from safety and begin struggling due to the cold, I knew that we couldn't wait for a boat so there was only one thing to do," said Cpl Hare, "without someone's help, she wasn't going to come ashore and it would've turned into a recovery mission."

Having jumped in the water to help pull an intoxicated swimmer from the lake this past September, Hare was no stranger to impromptu water rescues. Fortunately both had positive results although they certainly could have had more dire consequences.

"Our members continue to impress me with the work they do every day," said Supt Nick Romanchuk, Officer in Charge of the Kelowna RCMP. "Cpl. Hare displayed exceptional bravery by saving this woman's life, at great risk to his own."

The woman was taken to hospital to receive any treatment that she may have required.

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