Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Woman saves two drowning boys from chilly lake

  • Print

It's an odd question, but everyone's asking Melody Harper: "How cold was the water?"

The 35-year-old mother plunged into the remote northern Island Lake on Sunday afternoon and pulled out two drowning boys who were floating in the water.

Erlin Harper, 3, had to be airlifted to Winnipeg but he was released and returned Wednesday to Garden Hill, 980 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

"I got him to shore, and that's when I started giving him mouth-to-mouth. I kept at it until finally there was a little bit of water that started coming out of his mouth and nose. I knew it was working and he'd be all right."

Erlin's older brother, Stephan Harper, 4, came to on his own almost instantly as soon as Harper and her daughter Kalvina, 12, pulled him ashore.

Harper sensed danger the instant she saw a group of children on a rock by the water's edge on a Sunday drive around the community. When one boy fell into the water, Harper sped up to the nearest road and she and her daughter charged through dense bush to reach the rock with the kids.

By the time she and her daughter got to the shore, there were two lifeless bodies floating face-down in the water. One boy was floating about a metre from shore, the other about another metre beyond that.

Both kids had wandered off from family members when the accident happened.

As for the water, nobody knows the temperature, but spring breakup was mid-May this year.

"That's what everybody is asking, if the water was cold. I don't remember. I didn't have time to think if it was cold or not," Harper said. "I knew I had to go in there and save them."

All week, people have been coming up to Harper, a clerk at the Island Lake RCMP detachment.

"People are saying that 'We're glad you're fine,' and 'What would have happened if you hadn't been there?' "

The boys' parents said in a phone interview Thursday they are very grateful to the woman who rescued the children.

"I was too scared to say thank you. I'm a shy person," said the mother, Tammy Harper.

The mother said she's seen Harper's daughter. "I said 'Thank you' to Melody's daughter. I keep hugging her and she said, 'Don't cry. He's alive.' "

In addition to the Melody Harper who rescued the two small brothers, there are two other women by the same name in the northern community. Some grateful residents, unsure which Melody rescued the boys, are thanking all three women.

"She's not the type of person who can think of doing something like this, but the instincts of a mother took over and she knew there was no waiting around," said Cpl. Ryan Merasty, the acting commanding officer of the detachment.

"She had to do what she had to do," he said. "I'm very proud of Mel."

The RCMP detachment serves 10,000 people by boat and helicopter in the surrounding mainland First Nations of Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point, Garden Hill and Red Sucker Lake, north of Island Lake.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2012 A6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Inside peek at Real Pirates, new Manitoba Museum exhibit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos


Do you support Pimicikamak First Nation's protest against Manitoba Hydro?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google