Two Kelowna-area men whose heroics are credited with saving the lives of four people after a crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Revelstoke are to be decorated for their bravery by the Governor General of Canada.
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston on June 23 announced the awarding of two Stars of Courage and 56 Medals of Bravery, to be awarded at a ceremony at a later date.
Included on the list for bravery medals are Matt Jackson and Tyler Lockerby, who plunged into Griffin Lake on June 29, 2009 and rescued four people from a submerged van after they witnessed it crash into the lake.
Here’s the official listing from the June 23 media release from the Governor General of Canada, followed by the original story from the Revelstoke Times Review:
Matthew Michael Jackson, M.B.
Kelowna, British Columbia
Tyler Norman David Lockerby, M.B.
Kelowna, British Columbia
Medal of Bravery
On June 29, 2009, Matt Jackson and Tyler Lockerby risked their lives to rescue four people from a submerged vehicle, near Revelstoke, British Columbia. Messrs. Jackson and Lockerby witnessed the van in front of them strike a concrete barrier and swerve out of control, roll down an embankment and plunge into Griffin Lake. The two friends stopped their car, ran to the lake and jumped into the frigid waters. They swam out to the vehicle and climbed onto its roof. Mr. Jackson dove under water and pulled three of the victims out through the driver’s-side window. He passed them to Mr. Lockerby who brought them to shore one by one. Advised that a fourth person was still trapped inside the rapidly sinking vehicle, Messrs. Jackson and Lockerby made their way back. Unable to pry open the door, they managed to pull the last victim out through the broken front window. They brought the woman to shore and waited until the paramedics arrived. Thanks to the quick and brave actions of Messrs. Jackson and Lockerby, all four victims survived.
Here’s the story about the rescue first published on www.revelstoketimesreview.com on June 30, 2009, then revised for our July 8, 2009 print edition:
Four people rescued from crashed minivan submerged in Griffin Lake
REVELSTOKE, B.C. – Revelstoke RCMP are crediting two young Kelowna men for their quick reaction that likely prevented a serious tragedy following an accident just after noon Monday near the 3 Valley Gap resort located on the Trans-Canada Highway 19 kilometres east of Revelstoke.
Long-time friends Matthew Jackson and Tyler Lockerby, both 19, were travelling eastbound from Kelowna in a work truck en route to a job in Revelstoke.
They had just entered the Griffin Lake area when a minivan two cars in front of them lost control, swerved to one side, hit a sign then a highway barrier and rolled. The minivan then careened across the oncoming lane, down an embankment and into the icy waters of Griffin Lake.
Lockerby say the minivan sank “quick” since the windows were smashed out, eventually coming to rest completely underwater about four metres from shore.
Jackson and Lockerby say they had little time to think. They just reacted.
Jackson kicked off his sandals and plunged into the water. He could see arms reaching frantically out of the driver’s side window and he pulled the first person out, swam the man back a few feet and handed him off to Lockerby, who took him to shore.
They repeated the process, swimming through gasoline fumes to pull two more women out of the car and swam them to safety.
The young men say the passengers were in shock, saying things like ‘I need oxygen,’ and ‘God save me.’
It wasn’t until they were all back at shore that one of the shocked passengers managed to tell them there was a fourth passenger in the back of the van.
Jackson and Lockerby immediately plunged back into the lake, dove underwater and managed to pull the fourth trapped passenger through a smashed and crumpled window of the van.
Once back to shore, others were on scene assisting them, covering the victims with blankets and providing first aid.
Making the rescue more dramatic was the fact that two of the passengers were elderly, and Lockerby and Jackson believe that the two other passengers were disabled.
We talked with Jackson and Lockerby the next day when we located them in the mechanical room of the Revelstoke Forum where they were performing regular maintenance on the ice rink’s refrigeration unit. Friends since they were kids, they are both refrigeration mechanics and are employed by Lockerby’s father’s company, Norlock Refrigeration.
The soft-spoken young men had a large mechanical unit pulled apart and their forearms were smeared with oil from the job.
The incident happened on Lockerby’s 19th birthday. He says the point of the story is that it all worked out well in the end. “We did everything that we could,” he says. “I’m just glad they are OK.”
All four occupants of the vehicle are currently reported to be in stable condition. Two remain in Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke, while the other two were later transported to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
Lockerby and Jackson said they had called the hospital in the morning the following day to see how the crash victims were doing, and understand they are doing well enough, other than a broken arm and other injuries from the crash.
When asked if they thought the occupants could have got out on their own, they said they doubted it — maybe the driver only.
For his part, Jackson says he is glad they were there, and that they are both strong swimmers. “It’s really up to fate what could have happened,” he said.
Later in the week, Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd, who is originally from Revelstoke, said that she had requested that city staff explore the possibilities for recommending the young men for a medal. She said they were still exploring that process, so didn’t have details on what they’d recommend.
The victims of the crash are from the Calgary area. Bob and Anne Coul were travelling with their adult daughters Nancy Rowan and Patricia Wicks.
Anne Coul underwent surgery in Kamloops last week, while her husband is also recovering in Kamloops.
Their daughters remained in hospital in Revelstoke where they were receiving care.