SELKIRK, Man. — A Canadian woman is thankful that she can continue spending time with her family after two roofers saved her from drowning in a freezing river.
This amazing story from our neighbors to the north comes from CBC. According to the report, Mike Girardin and Jesse Reimer of Racka Roofing in Blumenort, Man., were working on the roof of a Selkirk apartment building on Tuesday when they heard a scream.
At first they thought it was children playing, but when they checked it out, they saw Teresa Byra struggling in the nearby Red River (about 21 miles northeast of Winnipeg).
“We decided to investigate and the closer we go to the river, it became more apparent that this was a woman in danger,” Girardin told CBC.
Byra recalled screaming for help as the river’s current pulled her, saying the men looked as if they were running in “slow motion” toward her.
“I thought they weren’t going to make it in time, because the bigger ice was coming,” she said.
The men sprang into action, walking on thin ice to help pull Byra from the icy waters. The ice near the shore broke during the attempt, causing all three to fall into knee-deep water.
“Not a lot of thinking happened. I ran over there and grabbed her arm because she was literally hanging onto a little ice ledge and there were large chunks of ice floating down the river,” Girardin told CBC.
Once everyone was safely ashore, the roofers helped Byra walk to her car so she could warm up while waiting for paramedics to arrive. She was given a clean bill of health, as were the two roofers.
“We were soaking wet,” Girardin said. “All of our winter clothes were turning to ice at that point, so we decided we were going to shut it down and go home.”
The shaken Byra explained that she was on a dock taking photos for a memorial she was making for a friend who had died. She slipped on some ice and fell into the water below.
“The water was open where I fell and it just carried me down, probably 20 or 30 feet with the current,” she said.
The following day, Girardin and Remier returned to the jobsite. While they worked on the apartment roof, Byra returned with her daughter and grandchild to visit them.
“I introduced them and I said, ‘This is what you saved me for. My kids still have me, my grandkids still have me.’ I have four kids and I have four grandkids and one stepdaughter,” Byra said. “I said … 'You guys are my heroes. You’re my guardian angels.'”
Girardin said he and Remier didn’t realize just how much danger everyone was in, but is glad it all worked out.
“We keep hearing the word ‘hero’ thrown around, and it’s a little surreal,” he said.
CBC reports that the roofers are being recognized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for the heroism, and are nominated for two national awards — the Royal Canadian Humane Association’s bravery award and the St. John’s Ambulance live-saving award.