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Diver involved in Thai cave rescue and other B.C. heroes honoured in West Kelowna

Erik Brown of Langley, right, was one of several B.C. residents who received bravery awards in West Kelowna on Friday. Global News

People who have put their own lives at risk in the attempt to save others were honoured in West Kelowna on Friday.

The Royal Canadian Humane Association handed out bravery awards to 19 British Columbians, including a Langley man who was part of one of the most dangerous rescue operations the world has ever witnessed.

Erik Brown, a diver from Langley with a dive shop in Kowtow, Thailand, offered to assist in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave.

“We didn’t realize how big it was,” Brown said. ” It wasn’t until you see it on the news all over the world that you sort of realize the scope of what’s going on.  We were pretty focused on the task at hand, to be honest.”

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Brown’s mother, brother, and aunt were on hand to see him receive his bronze medal from Staff Sgt. Major Josh Lockwood, Aides-de-Camp to Lieutenant Governor of B.C., Janet Austen.

Other bravery award recipients came from all over B.C. to attend the ceremony.

Local heroes included bronze medal recipients Constables Marvin Park, Lee Romanko and Ryan Routley from Kelowna.

On Sept. 10, the officers rescued an unconscious woman from a burning minivan that had struck a pole in the parking lot of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel.

The woman was taken to hospital to treat her injuries as well as a pre-existing medical condition.

Torey Schmidt of West Kelowna was also honoured with a bronze medal.

On Sept. 1, Schmidt noticed black smoke pouring into his basement suite.

He alerted the residents upstairs and pulled a little girl and a couple out of windows to safety, all before the fire department arrived and rescued the last two people in the home.

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