‘I’m just so grateful’: Okanagan paddleboarder reunites with teen lifeguards who saved him
An Okanagan paddleboarder is crediting the quick-thinking actions of the teenage lifeguards for saving his life Saturday afternoon near Peachland, B.C.
Aaron Platz, 38, took to Okanagan Lake after purchasing a new paddleboard when he was caught in a windstorm around 2 p.m.
“A wave caught me, knocked me off the board,” Platz said.
The West Kelowna resident admits he wasn’t wearing a life-jacket, did not have the ankle strap attached to his leg, and was wearing footwear that dragged him down.
“I floundered in the water, wasn’t making any ground, was being pulled under, my energy got zapped within a minute,” Platz said. “That’s when I knew I was going to die.”
Platz struggled to stay afloat and was being thrashed by the waves.
Amidst the desperation, he said he thought of his son, who just turned one year old, and his son’s mother.
“I said goodbye to Christina and when Daniel came into my mind, my heart broke,” he said.
That’s when he heard a voice.
“’I got you,'” Platz said the rescuer told him. “I rolled my head back and there she was.”
WATCH: (July 2019) Kayaker missing for four days
New lifeguard Ally Benedete was working at the nearby Wibit floating adventure park when she spotted Platz in distress.
“Immediately got my arm underneath him, just pulled him to any part of the park I could,” she said.
Alex Taylor also jumped into action and used an inflatable boat to reach Platz.
“Aaron was really disoriented and very scared,” he said.
READ MORE: Another drowning in Okanagan Lake
Both lifeguards are 18 years old and were trained in first aid this summer. This was their first rescue.
BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) confirms it responded to the distress call at 2:11 p.m., and paramedics assessed the man on scene before he was released.
Less than 24 hours after the incident, Platz returned to the park to personally thank the young people who rescued him.
“I’m just so grateful, there is nothing I can do to repay what they did,” he said.
“Emotional, to say the least,” Benedete said of the reunion.
“I don’t know if it’s really kicked in yet but it feels good, I’m glad for his family,” Taylor added.
Platz hopes other water sport enthusiasts will learn from his mistakes and take extra precautions when on the water.
WATCH: (June 2019) Central Okanagan Search and Rescue remembers fatal anniversary
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