CANMORE – Two men who ran to help another in distress in Quarry Lake last summer will receive an award from the Royal Life Saving Society in October.
Andreas Weinand from Germany and Guyot Bisson of Calgary are set to receive rescue commendation awards from the Alberta chapter of the society during a ceremony in October.
Both men were nominated by Stephen Sacha, who was there on the day at the end of July, 2017 and saw the uncertainty and confusion as people began to realize a man in the water was in distress and struggling to keep his head up.
“What appealed to me and what I found so striking, is this is the stuff that makes heroes,” he said. “These guys unselfishly made a decision when someone was in distress and they took off after him.
“These are the traits that everyone should emulate. They were decisive without hesitation and that put them as individuals in a certain class that needed to be recognized.”
Sacha recalled Weinand’s immediate reaction on the lakeshore when he realized someone was in distress and Bisson’s sprint along the pathway on the other side of the lake to reach the water’s edge and provide help.
“I was like, I’ve got to help this guy,” Weinand said at the time “I had to act; I dove into the water and swam as fast as I could.”
Bisson reached him first and Weinand wasn’t far behind to help.
“Before I could get him to shore, Andreas arrived to help,” Bisson said a few days after the incident in an interview with the Outlook. “Thankfully, I was struggling to keep my head above water and it was good to have him there.”
Sacha, an engineer with lifeguard training, not only credited the two men for saving another’s life, he nominated them for the commendation with the Royal Life Saving Society.
The award is to be handed out in a ceremony on Oct. 12, however Weinand has since returned to Germany and won’t be able to attend.
The incident occurred just a couple days after a man drowned in the lake. Canmore and Banff EMS, Canmore Fire-Rescue and STARS air ambulance responded, but it took several minutes for bystanders to find the man after he went under the water.
The 28-year-old landed immigrant from Korea could not be resuscitated, despite efforts by first responders.
It is not the first time a visitor to Canmore has lost their life at the lake. In july 2015, a 19 year old member of a church group visiting the area drowned after being separated from friends.
The Quarry, while a popular swimming spot, is not a natural lake, but is a reclaimed open pit mine. It is fed by cold water from an underground spring and drops off sharply as people walk into the lake from the two shorelines on opposite ends.
The lake is co-owned by the municipality and the Rocky Mountain Heritage Foundation, although the Town’s parks department manages it in summer as a recreation area.
It is 260 metres in length and at its widest part, 100 metres, but its depth can very from 30 to 100 metres and it is a cold body of water.
In March this year, administration briefed council on efforts to create a safer environment at the lake. The work was done in conjunction with the Alberta Life Saving Society and resulted in equipment – reaching poles and lifesaving rings – being installed at the Quarry to assist if someone is in distress.
The society conducted an audit of the popular swimming area and recommended the equipment, as well as better signage, be installed.