Sally Wallick, a music teacher from Kelowna, B.C., was out enjoying the sunshine on Okanagan Lake when she noticed a fellow kayaker had capsized and become stranded.
Despite Kelowna’s warm spring temperatures, Okanagan Lake can still reach frigid low temperatures of around 9 degrees celsius. Wallick paddled over to the man and quickly learned that he had been capsized and in the water for at least 45 minutes. As she approached, she realized his lips were blue. With hypothermia top of mind, she knew she had to act fast.
Wallick urged the man to grab onto the back of her kayak so that she could paddle him to shore. After some trial and error, she instructed him to move to the front of her boat and to “try to kick” so that he would stay as warm as possible.
The stranded paddler seemed unwilling to leave his kayak and belongings behind. “You’re really cold. Leave the kayak. We’ll find it I promise,” said Wallick in the video. She reassured him that the kayak and his belongings would wash up on the shore.
The rescue began promisingly, with Wallick reassuring the swimmer that he was doing a “good job” as she paddled forward with him hugging the side of her sit-on-top kayak. Unfortunately, their joint success was short-lived.
She asked the man to lie across her kayak, and as he did so, the kayak flipped—submerging them both underwater. The camera she was filming with became submerged and the sequence of events that followed becomes a little unclear.
Despite the new dire circumstances, the video shows Wallick remain calm. She was able to flag down a pontoon boat that was able to bring the man to shore. Though, at that point in the video, it is unclear how long they were both in the water. “I’m just grateful that it all worked out,” she told Global News. “I do kind of think about what would have happened maybe if the pontoon boat didn’t come.”