A Sylvan Lake visitor sprang into action over the August long weekend.
Kristy Packwood, from Okotoks, Alta., was in town with her family when she heard cries for help coming from the water at the end of the pier on Aug. 3.
They had arrived too early to check in at their Jarvis Bay campsite and had decided to kill time strolling the lakeshore when they heard the pleas from the boy and his friend.
“I could just tell by the tone of his voice that he was scared, I think that’s what got me moving so I just thought ‘well there’s nobody else around or responding’ so I just went [and] didn’t really think too hard about it,” Packwood said in a phone interview, adding the boy was about 12- to 14-years-old.
Packwood explained he was within a metre of the wall and about seven to 10 metres away from the ladder, but after an attempt to talk him back she realized he was panicking.
“I think he probably could’ve done it, but when panic sets in you sort of lose some of those abilities.”
She said the next step was taking off her shoes, handing over her purse and lowering herself down the ladder to offer hands-on help.
Once in the water she realized it was windy and choppy and understood how the elements could feel like too much for him.
“I did have a brief moment where I thought ‘oh, my husband’s going to have to come and get both of us,’ but I have a swimming background and so I felt confident enough.”
As she approached she explained to the boy she was going to come from behind and she would slowly pull him back to the ladder.
The boy climbed the ladder himself and the two of them sat on the edge for a bit and chatted once back on dry land. He assured Packwood he was with his friends and they would all walk home as he lived close by.
“His friends brought a towel over to him so they intended to be there, it’s not like he fell in or anything, from what I can gather,” she commented.
Packwood says she has never done a water-related rescue before, but plenty of first aid with kids so responding felt “natural” in a way.
“In the end I’m just glad we were there at the right moment,” Packwood said.
The Town of Sylvan Lake wants to remind those visiting the waterfront they are entering the lake and swimming at their own risk.
“Trust your gut [and don’t get in over your head,” advises Packwood. “Other than that, I think, just help when you can. Do what you need to do.”