A relaxing day on the lake with friends and coworkers quickly shifted into something completely different when a watchful bystander noticed a man’s head drop below the surface of the water, and not come back up.
The quick actions of a fisherman and surrounding campers proved pivotal in saving an individual at Suzanne Lake near Jaffray, last Saturday.
“We were coming back from fishing, me and a friend of mine, we both had our young children in the boat,” said Aaron Jones of Calgary.
As the group was approaching the dock in the middle of the lake, they saw a man who was having a hard time swimming, and was calling out for help. Nobody close by seemed to be moving towards the man. Elk Valley RCMP later confirmed that the man had developed a cramp in his legs which rendered him temporarily immobile.
“As we were moving the boat towards him, he went under, and he didn’t come back up,” said Jones. “So once I saw that he was going under I jumped in, I went down, he was pretty much at the bottom by the time I got to him, (and I) swam him back up to the surface.
“He was completely unconscious, like eyes wide open,” he continued. “I tried to feel for a pulse but I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t know if – there was a lot going on at that point.”
Others assisted Jones in getting the man to shore, at which time Jones immediately starting performing CPR.
“Another guy with his friends starting to do chest compressions, and after maybe seven or eight rounds, he came back to life,” said Jones.
“It was pretty intense.”
On the shore watching close by was the man’s pregnant wife, as well as his father-in-law. While he was recovering, his wife lay beside him and comforted him.
“That hit home especially, because I was there with my wife and my young fella,” said Jones.
Growing up, Jones received his bronze cross and was trained in resuscitation, water rescue, but this was many years ago.
Jones, an operations manager for a scaffolding company in Calgary, just happened to be in the Fernie area that weekend camping with friends. Jones said this certainly wasn’t how he planned to spend his weekend, but was very glad that the outcome was what it was.
He stressed that the rescue was not just him.
“There were a lot of factors that came together that kept that guy from dying,” Jones said. “Having people in boats to help alleviate some of the strain on me after having to go down and get him, to bring him into shore. His friend who did chest compressions…”
Jones explained that there were several others on shore, including local volunteer firefighters and mine rescue workers that were able to take over once the man was in recovery position, which allowed Jones to catch his breath.
“It was definitely a team effort, for sure,” said Jones.
Once the dust settled, the saved man and his family invited Jones and his family up to their campsite, where they ate together; everyone expressing how thankful they were to be together.
Asked if he hesitated at all in the moment, Jones paused to think.
“It’s what you’ve got to do, right,” he said. “Like, I don’t know – I didn’t really think about anything I was doing, I just kind of did it.”
A request for comment from the individual who was saved was not returned by press time.