December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
A Manitoba RCMP officer is being credited with saving the life of a distraught woman who drove her car off a bridge and into an icy, fast-flowing river.
The incident began last Friday evening when Gypsumville RCMP were called about a woman who had left her residence in Fairford with the intention of possibly harming herself. Police soon spotted the woman’s car on the Fairford Bridge. As they approached her to speak, the woman hit the gas pedal and drove off the road and into the Fairford River.
"There was a big splash. We couldn’t believe what happened," Gypsumville RCMP Const. Fraser Potts told the Free Press today.
The vehicle began floating downstream, and Potts his partner saw the woman flee her car just before it sank.
"She was mumbling ‘Can’t swim, can’t swim’," said Potts, 28. "I was trying to show her how to swim but the current was pulling her away."
The woman was struggling to stay afloat, so Potts knew he had to act fast. He took off his police vest and gun belt and jumped into the icy waters and began swimming towards the woman.
"It was freezing cold. But I thought I had to try and save her," said Potts.
Potts reached the woman and told her to stay still, as he was worried she may try to fight him and make it impossible to rescue her. Potts was trying to swim with the woman to shore when a boat that had been put in the water by several Fairford band members came by to pull them both to safety.
Both Potts and the woman were treated in hospital for exposure to the elements. Potts, who is originally from Waterloo, Ontario, said this is definitely the most dramatic incident of his four-year police career.
"It hasn’t really sunk in yet," he said.
Updated on Monday, May 13, 2013 at 2:18 PM CDT:
Updates with quotes.