A Calgary woman says the quick actions of a group of strangers all helped in avoiding a tragedy on the Bow River this week.
Amy Barton and her eight-year-old daughter Juniper were kayaking with a family friend on the Bow River Thursday evening when they noticed some young people jumping off bridges by Bowmont Park.
“The two men that we came across were honestly under the water. It was terrifying,” Amy said.
“Thankfully, this young woman to the left of us was wading out from shore, and she yelled, ‘Hey kayakers, those guys are drowning!’”
Amy paddled through the strong current to help one man while her friend Heidi Grogan set off to assist the other.
“The last we saw was his hand go down. You keep thinking it’s going to come back up and it didn’t,” Amy recalled.
“We were trying to fight the current and circle back to try to find this guy, and we didn’t see him again.”
That’s when Amy decided to take off her life-jacket to help find the man.
“I rammed it down in the water with the paddle, and as I reached down, I felt him and pulled him up and the life-jacket kind of slipped onto him, and I said, ‘Grab the back of my boat,’” Amy explained.
Amy managed to tow the man to shore, where a group of bystanders helped out. At this point, she said the young woman named Jenna, who had first alerted Amy and Heidi to the men in the water, jumped into the cold river. Amy said Jenna dove under Heidi’s kayak to rescue the other man.
“This girl Jenna somehow dove under Heidi’s kayak and grabbed this guy. Heidi was doing the same thing just trying to circle around and stick her paddle down. Jenna went under the kayak and grabbed the guy and held onto him and the back of Heidi’s kayak, and Heidi got them to shore,” Amy said.
Juniper watched all of this happen from the shore.
“It’s just the way Jenna dove into the water without even thinking about it. She just did it to help someone. It’s incredible,” Juniper said.
Both men were assisted by members of the Calgary Fire Department.
Juniper managed to paddle to shore on her own and assisted in treating one of the victims.
“Juniper was there like a rockstar trying to help Heidi and keep this guy warm, and we called fire rescue, who came and took this gentleman,” Amy said.
Amy hopes this near tragedy will prompt people to always wear life-jackets in the river. She credits the selfless actions of Jenna, the young woman on the shore, for helping save a young man’s life.
“We just want to try to connect with her and let her know and let her parents know because that’s a pretty cool kid to have,” Amy said.
“What an amazing job she did for such a young woman being there in that position.”
On Friday, the City of Calgary issued a boating advisory for the Bow River due to higher expected flow rates and the current forecast. High flows are expected due to snowmelt and the possibility of thunderstorms throughout the weekend.
No flooding over riverbanks is expected but flow rates are expected to increase, which makes conditions on and near the river dangerous.
People are advised against boating and all other watercraft activities on the Bow River.
Members of the CFD’s aquatics team will be monitoring the rivers while the advisory is in place.
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