Penticton man rescues woman in river channel

A Penticton man rescued a woman whose car ended up in the south end of the Okanagan River Channel on Wednesday morning.

Harvey Hunchak said he was driving on Skaha Lake Road when he noticed a group of people gathered looking at the submersed car.

“I went across the bridge and turned into the parking lot thinking, ‘I’ve got to see what is going on.’ Then I saw a lady had popped out of the car and she didn’t look like she was doing very well, of course the water is cold.”

He grabbed a pipe and put a strap around it that had been in his work truck, as the woman was floating towards the bank. He yelled at her to grab onto it. With the assistance of another man, he pulled her to the shore right as the ambulance showed up.

“It was just instinct I guess,” said Hunchak of why he drove in without a second thought. “There was a lot of people on the channel side that wanted to help. In fact, there was one lady that dived right off the bank into the water. She just went a little ways and turned around and went back because she realized she wouldn’t make it either, that water was cold. I was lucky she floated towards the bank,” said Hunchak. “The other lady should be commended for her efforts for sure. I would just hope someone would do the same if I needed help.”

Hunchak said the woman in the submerged white Hyundai Elantra was speaking when she was in the water, stating she didn’t want to go back to the hospital.

Cpl. Ted Manchulenko said the woman was fortunate that bystanders came to her assistance.

“Being in the middle of the channel in fairly cool water for this time of the year, it was fortunate to get other people to risk their own safety to assist her,” said Manchulenko.

RCMP said the woman was transported to Penticton Regional Hospital to undergo more tests.


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