After tasting the power of the river this week, a family from Chilliwack in British Columbia has pledged to protect its power, a report said.
Shaun McDowell, 11 years old, said that he was bruised from jumping into the Vedder river Tuesday to save his friend.
Shaun and Darius, a friend of Darius’s, had been playing in shallow water in a section just across from the Vedder River Campground.
Shaun’s grandmother and mom were watching them from the shore.
The boys were about ankle deep on the Vedder‘s north side, where a large branch sticks out. Everything seemed to be fine.
The water rose to their knees. The water was up to their necks. Darius then slipped on a stone.
Shaun stated, “I knew that he wasn’t very good at swimming so I jumped into the water to help him.”
Shaun arrived at the boy and he was already panicked. Shaun tried to help him get past him.
“He pushed me down, and I was submerged.”
He was again swept downstream by the current.
Shaun stated, “I was trapped under a platform where some large rocks were.”
For about 30 seconds, he was submerged. He felt exhausted but managed to lift himself up to the surface to grab a boulder.
A man in a purple kayak saw the boys go into the water and paddled closer towards Shaun. He lifted his kayak onto the boulders and began to assist the boy. The kayaker stayed on the boat and guided the boy safely over the rocks and bushes.
Shaun was wearing prescription glasses that were too heavy and flew off his face as soon as he touched the water. He couldn’t see the way to safety and was shaken and scared after getting out.
Mona Nowak (Shaun’s grandmother), said that it was almost as if the kayaker had dropped from heaven to rescue Shaun.
Both the arrival of the kayaker and the arrival of the couple cycling above the river were perfectly timed.
Nowak stated, “It was miraculous.” “They made what could have been a tragedy in the family into a blessing.”
Although Shaun didn’t realize it until much later, his mother had run after the boys and lost her balance. She was also swept downstream.
“The water was probably up to my knees, when my footing gave out under me,” Tara Scheirer, Shaun’s mom, said.
She couldn’t breathe because of the strong current.
Scheirer stated, “I couldn’t have gotten neither Darius nor myself out at that stage.”
A tandem bike-riding couple above noticed the situation and alerted them.
After fighting the current, the man wearing an orange high-vis vest climbed down to the river bank and helped the mother and her son.
Scheirer could only manage one word: “Help.”
Both were holding onto rocks as Shaun was helping Shaun to navigate the way to safety further downstream.
She said, “The kayaker stayed at Shaun, and the couple stayed at Darius until Shaun could reach me.”
It happened so quickly. Without the helpers, it might have been a completely different story.
Although they didn’t get the names of the rescuers, the family would love to thank them.
Nowak stated, “Thank goodness there are people like you.”
Sheirer said that they didn’t know of the danger, and now have time to reflect on the horrific incident. “The water was not even up to their knees.”
They had been to the river before and knew of many families enjoying the Vedder gravel bars, back channels, and other amenities. They had never been in the water before.
Shaun stated that he would be more careful in the future around rivers.
He said, “The current was stronger than I anticipated.” It was really quick once I was hooked up to it.
Anyone who knows the purple kayaker or the tandem bike-riding couple on Tuesday afternoon, please let Nowak and Scheirer know, the report added.