Two officers from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment were honoured on the weekend for their efforts to rescue one man after a boating accident that claimed the life of another man.
Late in the day on April 18, Const. David Starr and Const. Warren Kongus were dispatched to Lois Lake, southwest of Duncan, after a hiker near the lake reported hearing cries for help from a small island.
“Lois Lake is remote, lacks cell phone reception and is accessed by logging roads,” related Sgt. Trevor Busch, Operations Support NCO for the detachment. “The responding officers had local knowledge of the area which assisted them in arriving on scene quickly.”
Two Duncan men in their 60s had ventured out on the lake for an overnight fishing trip when their small boat overturned. One man, who was not wearing a personal floatation device, drowned, but the other man, who was wearing a PFD, was able to swim to the small island and yell for help.
The officers were able to communicate with the survivor, comforting him while they awaited Cowichan Valley Search and Rescue. The man was taken to Cowichan District Hospital around 11 p.m. and was treated for hypothermia. He credits Starr and Kongus with saving his life.
“It was the actions of the police officers, yelling out to me, that reignited my will to survive,” he told the RCMP, according to Busch.
On Saturday, May 9, the officers were presented with North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP challenge coins. Challenge coins have a longstanding tradition among police and the military, and 32 such coins have been presented to members of the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment for efforts going above and beyond their duties.
“May 10 to 16 is also National Police Week and a great time to recognize the outstanding efforts of the officers in our detachment,” Busch stated. “This was a terrible tragedy that could have been much worse without the actions of these officers. It is also a reminder about how important it is to wear a PFD while boating.”