Guardian angel, heroic cops and a life saved

Chilliwack RCMP dive into a freezing cold ditch to rescue a trapped driver

A 9-1-1 call from an 18-year-old Chilliwack woman trapped in a vehicle that’s flipped on its roof in a ditch and filling fast with water.

And then the line goes dead.

Chilliwack firefighters are dealing with emergencies on the other side of town at 11:30 a.m. on a snowy Wednesday morning, but several Chilliwack RCMP officers are finally able to locate the 2005 Hyundai 4-door in a ditch on Gibsons Road.

Only its tires are showing above the water line.

Knowing time is running out for whoever is inside, several police officers immediately jump into the water and try to lift the car up high enough to expose the back window, while another officer tries to break it with a window punch.

No dice, the window isn’t co-operating.

So the officer starts punching it with his bare fist, and keeps on punching until it breaks.

He then crawls inside the water-filled car and pulls the young girl to safety, handing her off to another officer outside who swims her to the edge of the ditch.

A waiting ambulance then takes her to Chilliwack General Hospital where she is treated for Stage 1 hypothermia.

“By the time police reached me, the water was up to my neck,” the young girl recalled later.

“A bunch of the officers went in the water to lift the car, and the next thing I knew I was being pulled out,” she said. “(Then) we had to swim.”

“I am just so grateful to everyone who was there yesterday to help me.”

RCMP Const. Tracy Wolbeck said the young girl had come “within an inch of her life” as the water rose around her.

“This is such a heroic act,” Wolbeck said. “A lot of bravery and selflessness on the part of all the officers involved went into saving this woman’s life yesterday.”

The officer who punched out the window needed several stitches in his badly sprained hand.

Found in the back of the Hyundai after it was pulled from the water — a guardian angel ornament, which the young girl hadn’t known was there.

It now has a prominent — and no doubt permanent — place on the family Christmas tree.

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