After roughly half an hour in a submerged vehicle in near-freezing water, a man is in hospital in stable condition following a harrowing, multi-agency rescue operation.
A vehicle crashed and sank into Harrison Lake at about 7 p.m. on Monday, May 30. Agassiz RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Mike Sargent said police, the Agassiz Fire Department, B.C. Ambulance Service and Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue responded to the crash just off of Rockwell Drive. KHSAR volunteers, with the assistance of the fire department, were able to extract the only person in the vehicle, who was flown to hospital via air ambulance.
KHSAR volunteer Ian Maslin was on the scene early, where he witnessed two citizens attempt to locate and rescue the driver in the vehicle. A KHSAR volunteer went into the water shortly after in a borrowed, too-short wetsuit – no special diving equipment, no mask or fins.
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“It would’ve been easy for people to give up, but they did not,” Maslin told The Observer.
Cst. Ben Stewart of the Agassiz RCMP – who was off-duty at the time – also dove into the water and successfully broke the window of the vehicle, helping pull the man to safety where he could be transported to hospital.
“The bravery and quick actions of Cst Stewart led to the safe rescue of the occupant of the submerged vehicle,” Sargent stated. “The community is fortunate to have Ben whose commitment to the communities he serves is evident both on- and off-duty
The RCMP is investigating the crash, examining medical reasons as a potential cause.