Three Good Samaritans are being credited with saving a man’s life after he fell into Lake Ontario near the Toronto waterfront early Monday morning.
Toronto police said emergency crews were called to the pier near 55 Harbour Square just after 1 a.m. and located a man in the water clinging onto the edge of a boardwalk.
Christ Vasilopoulos told Global News he was out for a walk when he was called over to help by a couple. He immediately leaned over the edge of the boardwalk to grab the man.
“The elderly couple sat on my legs while I held on to him until the emergency (services) came,” he said, adding he held on “for dear life” as he propped the man on a ladder and a tire. He wasn’t able to lift him out of the water.
Firefighters and police then managed to pull the man to safety. He was taken to hospital with hypothermia but is expected to recover.
All three Good Samaritans were uninjured. It’s unclear how the man ended up in the water.
Police said the human body can hold a steady pace of breathing in cold water for only one minute.
“Somebody in that type of climate and that water is not going to last very long. Your body will shut down fairly quickly,” Const. Richard Baker said.
“You have the first initial shock where you start gasping. That’s the cold water. That’s your body reacting right away to the cold.”
Baker said anyone who sees a person in distress in the water should never jump in after them.
“Swimming is a very good asset. But in cold water and what we deal with out there, being a good swimmer doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
Police said calling 911 and using an object to help keep the person stay afloat is recommended.
Meanwhile, police commended the actions by Vasilopoulos and the couple.
“These three individuals are heroes. They saved a man who was drowning,” Const. Jen Sidhu said.
When Vasilopoulos was told he was considered a hero by police, he dismissed the praise.
“Anybody would have done it. Anybody would have done it,” he said.
With files from Nick Westoll, Catherine McDonald and Cindy Pom