15-year-old Mackenzie Lacon woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of screams.
She was camping with her dad, an off-duty Victoria Police Department member, on May 20 when just after midnight they heard the cries for help coming from across the water on Lake Cowichan.
The duo, along with a Youbou resident, jumped into action, and while some other residents called the RCMP, all three got into their own boats and raced towards the overturned 19.7 foot boat in the water.
Fourteen people were in the water and the trio started dragging the victims from the cold water into their boats, and then ferrying them to shore.
Lake Cowichan RCMP soon arrived on scene and began a search for anyone left in the water.
Back on shore, the rescuers offered up warm clothes to the shivering boaters. Lake Cowichan RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Larry Olson later said, “all occupants were transported safely to shore. However, one sustained a dislocated shoulder.”
Inspector Lacon is quick to praise those who came together to assist in the rescue. “It’s part of how people are on Lake Cowichan,” he said. “When people need help, especially out on the water, we all come together to do what needs to be done. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the shore, an RCMP member, an off-duty cop, or just paddling by – when people need help, especially on the water, you help.”
All of the occupants were rescued, but Lacon said this is an important reminder of safe boating practices.
“There are many things that you can do to make boating safer,” he added. “Simple things, like not boating while impaired, taking a course and wearing a lifejacket can make all the difference. You shouldn’t have to rely on the good hearing of your neighbours to stay safe on the water. This could have been a real tragedy.”