The quick work of local RCMP, firefighters and ambulance personnel on Saturday night saved the lives of a Ste. Rose du Lac man and his 12-year-old daughter who were in danger of being swept away by freezing water in a creek.
The man and the girl survived the harrowing ordeal after being rescued from the rising, rushing water. They had been trapped in their truck after the engine quit as they tried to cross the creek at about 10 p.m. in the dark, unaware that the water had risen to impassable levels.
The pair escaped the vehicle but were separated in the fast-moving water. The girl was carried away from the truck by the water, which still had ice chunks on it, while the man was stranded on the roof of the truck.
He was rescued by the firefighters who used the bucket of a neighbour's tractor to reach him.
Two volunteer firefighters, who did not want to give their names, went into the frigid water to pull out the girl. One firefighter as well as the girl and her father were taken to hospital for treatment of hypothermia. The girl has remained in hospital and is expected to recover, while the others were released.
Ste. Rose du Lac deputy mayor Ivan Worrall praised the quick action of the firefighters, who are all volunteers.
"It was great because I don’t think the little girl would have held on much longer. We’re super proud of them," said Worrall, noting he'd heard the girl may have been in the water as long as 45 minutes.
"Our guys were in the water for five minutes and were frozen to the core. I don’t know how she held on. It’s amazing. You never know what you are going to do until you are in the that kind of situation. Those guys stood up to it and they did it."
The dad and daughter were driving on a low-level crossing on Hanson Creek north of Ste. Rose du Lac when the truck’s engine became wet and died.
A neighbour said the father could hear his daughter calling from somewhere downstream, but could not see her.
"When I saw him, he was in shock and panicked because it was dark and he couldn't see where she was," said James Rath, whose tractor was used to rescue the man from the roof of the truck.
RCMP would like to remind everyone to use caution around spring waters. Streams and rivers are fast-moving with cold temperatures and are dangerous.
Ste. Rose du Lac is approximately 50 kilometres southeast of Dauphin.