After saving a mother and toddler who nearly drowned in Lost Lake, resident Erin Marof wants the swimming area roped off to keep visitors away from what she is calling a dangerous sudden drop-off zone in the lake.
What is particularly harrowing for her is that this is the third time since 2009 that she has witnessed drownings or near drownings in Lost Lake, located near Whistler Village.
In the most recent incident, on Sunday, July 29, Marof and a friend came to the aid of the woman, who lost her footing while holding the child. The woman swallowed water as she struggled to keep herself and the youngster from sliding into deeper water.
"That day my friend and I went to Lost Lake for a quick swim because it was so hot. We got to the dock outside the swimming area and slowed down, and were floating and resting, and I saw this mom," Marof recalled.
"She was walking with her baby in her arms and I was floating around, talking with my friend, and all of a sudden you could see that she was losing her footing. She didn't realize how deep it got, and all of a sudden I saw her head go under. The baby was in her arms, too, she was losing her footing and she couldn't let go of the baby to pull herself in with her arms, so she was trying to use her feet to pull herself in."
Marof – a former lifeguard – was shocked by what she saw and was the first to act.
"It was freaky. I saw that this was not right, that she was drowning. She was holding the kid over her head and breathing water in," she said.
"I swam to her and pulled her up by her hair and bathing suit and said 'give me your child now!' and I grabbed the baby, and I was exhausted because I had just swum the lake. I was holding the toddler, treading water, and pulling the woman up by her pony-tail, to keep her head up."
Marof's friend realized what was happening and swam over to help, and together they got the pair to safety.
"Honestly, we only needed to move four feet in to be able to touch the bottom. It just drops so quickly and people don't realize it. We got her to shore, sat her down. She was in complete shock. We should have probably taken her to the clinic, but she said 'I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine!'"
Marof did not get the woman's name but discovered she and the toddler were alone and she was not a Whistler resident.
"We put blankets on her. I was in tears. If I had not been there, they would have both drowned, because everyone else around her was oblivious... she sat there shaking. I couldn't breathe," she said.