Three locals are among the
just under two dozen Canadians who will be getting medals of bravery from the
Michael Jean's office
announced this morning that Vincent Massey of Whistler, and Steven Flynn and
Paul Anthony Skelton of Pemberton are heroes for their part in rescuing a
stranded ice sailor who broke through the ice of Green Lake in March 2005.
It all began one Saturday
morning when a bystander saw Jurg Humbel sink into Green Lake after he lost the
wind while kite skiing on thin ice about 200 metres off the Highway 99
Humbel and his kite skiing
were a familiar site on the lake in the winter but unseasonably warm weather
had made Green Lake a treacherous place to be that Saturday.
“I made a few mistakes and
judgement errors,” he said humbly at the time, adding that he had not checked
the ice conditions on the roadside of the lake for about two days before heading
out from the golf course side.
“Then I ran out of wind in a
really bad spot, and then I started sinking and the ice was basically rotten,
like a carpet caving in on me, and from then on it was survival.”
As Humbel struggled to
survive, emergency professionals went into high gear after a witness called
911. The fire department was called to see if their ice-sled could reach him. A
zodiac was called out but it was too slow breaking through the ice and Humble
was getting dangerously close to letting go of his sail and sinking into the
dark waters of the lake.
Helicopters owner Steve Flynn, a highly trained rescue pilot, was driving home
for lunch when he saw the rescue underway. He was quickly called into action.
But as he hovered over Humbel
it became clear the kite-skier was incapacitated by cold and could not help him
self. Flynn had to dip the skid of the helicopter into the water and scoop out
Humbel’s arm so that long-time professional mountain rescuer Paul Skelton and
Whistler Search and Rescue member Vincent “Binty” Massey could grab him and
pull him into the helicopter.
Flynn admitted at the time
that the water surface rescue was a first for him and he believed it all came
together because the team had trained together for years.
The recipients will be
invited to receive their decorations at a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall at
a later date.