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‘His eyes started closing’: Okanagan Lake rescue caught on camera

Click to play video: 'Okanagan Lake kayak rescue caught on camera' Okanagan Lake kayak rescue caught on camera
WATCH: A Kelowna woman is sharing her story of a close call on Okanagan Lake. The paddler was in the right place to help a fellow kayaker in distress. Much of the incident was captured on video. – May 11, 2021

In late April, Sally Wallick was filming her paddle on Okanagan Lake when she came upon another kayaker holding on to a capsized boat.

“I noticed right away he wasn’t really okay. I tried to keep it light not to panic him. He was passed the point of…being panicky which was concerning,” Wallick said.

“I tried to keep it light, but inside I was like, ‘Oh no, this guy needs help right away.”

Read more: Penticton RCMP and BC Coroners Service investigating Okanagan Lake drowning

She believes the man was in the water for more than 45 minutes and that he got into trouble when the wind picked up, drastically changing conditions on what had been a calm day.

“He had all the right things, he had his phone, he was just very unlucky to have the weather turn in such an unpredictable way,” Wallick said.

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She phoned to arrange help on shore, got the man to hold on to her boat and started to paddle.

Read more: Kelowna athlete swimming length of Okanagan Lake, raising funds for youth concussion clinic

“I was just getting him to kick a little bit, trying to keep warm and then his eyes started closing and [he] started to really go limp,” Wallick recalled.

“That’s when I was like, ‘What do I do now?’ because he is about to let go of the boat.”

Wallick ended up getting into the water with him, got him draped him over her boat and flagged down a pontoon boat.

That boat was able to speed the man to help waiting on shore.

“But the whole time paddling back in my head I thought he didn’t make it. So I was quite upset,” she said.

Read more: ‘A heroic act on river’s edge’: Good Samaritan saves drowning man in North Vancouver

Wallick would later learn he did survive, and she believes he was not seriously injured.

“I’m just grateful that it all worked out. I do kind of think about what would have happened maybe if the pontoon boat didn’t come,” she said.

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Wallick’s thankful she had enough paddling experience to help, and wants the incident to be a safety lesson for everyone.

“The most important thing is to understand, especially this time of year, is how unpredictable weather conditions are,” Wallick said.

“You should have someone with you. You should have people [on shore] know you are out there.”

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