Thankful for a summer saviour
As we approach the Thanksgiving weekend, there are myriad things for which to be thankful.
For one B.C. man, however, his thanksgivings will be directed to a Kamloops girl whose quick actions on a summer day saved his life.
Seventy-four-year-old Lorne Barber was on a boat in Sheridan Lake near 100 Mile House on July 24 when he fell into the water and began calling for help.
Fortunately for Barber, Kristen Morgan, a 14-year-old girl from Kamloops camping at the lake with family, was nearby and sprang into action.
While her friend, Ezara Severn, ran for help, Kristen jumped into the lake to save a floundering Barber.
“Me and my friend were ready to go on this big, blow-up boat and we saw him leaning off his boat,” Kristen said of the momentous day.
“At first, we thought he was just leaning to grab something . . . but then the whole boat tipped.”
Kristen and Ezara were two docks away and ran to the wharf nearest Barber.
“He started yelling, ‘Help me!’, so I jumped in and my friend went to get help,” Kristen said, noting she waded out to assist him as the water was not over her head to get within reach.
“I grabbed his arm and just helped him because he was kind of drowning. He couldn’t hold himself up.”
She said Barber’s head kept sinking underwater, so she held him up by both of his shoulders to keep his head up.
Kristen eventually walked Barber to the edge of the lake, where adults helped him until he could catch his breath and get on shore, where emergency personnel arrived.
Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD) Chief Doug Townsend said Barber later explained he began feeling “disorientated and weak” after his boat tipped over. He just overbalanced and over he went.”
Townsend noted Barber wasn’t wearing a life-jacket and was “more or less on his tiptoes” trying to keep his head out of the water.
Townsend said fire-department members arriving to a reported near-drowning callout were relieved to see Kristen already had Barber on the shore.
“It was a brave decision of hers, for a young girl to go out and assist [a much larger man] in coming to shore.”
Kristen said Barber later expressed gratitude for her role in saving him.
“He thanked me and he said if it wasn’t for me, he could easily have drowned.”
Her parents had a fright when the on-shore panic started, she added, when they initially thought the girls were in peril.
Now, Kristen said, they only have praise for their daughter.
“They said I was a hero.”