I was walking across the bridge today going toward the Albion Ferry when I looked over to my left and saw several people playing along the shore. The only bad thing about this time of year for people who want to do some serious sun tanning and bathing is that the river is high. June and July are the common months when the Fraser River floods. I saw some kids swimming, but just as I looked harder I noticed one of them panicking and the kids nearest to her started screaming. The under toe of the water was pulling the kid down and away from the shore.
All I could do was stand there and watch. I notice that some of the adults started running towards the shoreline when they heard the screams. They were sitting up on the riverbank and one of them started yelling at the remaining people who were still up on the bank to come down. As I looked over the railing from the bridge another pedestrian stopped by me and he looked towards the noise. I told him that a child was getting sucked into the current.
After about 30 seconds one of the adults jumped in and started swimming towards the child. He caught up to the thrashing child and grabbed her arm then started doing a side-stroke back to the shore. When he got to shallow water one of the adults from shore jumped in and grabbed the child and lifted her up onto dry land.
What was interesting was once the child was safe, the father and mother came running towards her and took her away up to the parking lot of the camp ground. I started walking again, but as I approached the parking lot, which was on my way to where I was going, I saw the reunited family standing by their car getting ready to leave. What was puzzling for me was seeing the father scolding the little girl because of her near miss drowning. The girl could have being somewhere around seven or eight years of age, so quite young to be swimming in a fast moving river. So why was the father scolding her?
My only guess as to why the father was punishing the little girl could be due to his lack of control, or embarrassment of having a bystander rescuing his child from an all most certain death while he left her unattended. Or perhaps he was really punishing her for swimming in the first place; however, her siblings were also swimming too, though they were not much older.
Either way, I felt disgusted seeing this spectacle after the horrific event. The trauma that the child had gone through moments before could only be amplified by being yelled and shaken by her own father afterwords, especially in front of strangers who seem to just stand there as spectators. Maybe the father was doing the right thing? My gut feeling was telling me that this was way out of line for any parent. When I got close enough to hear them, the doors of their car slammed shut and they sped out of the parking lot.
The image of the little girl in the river is still in my mind. She was one lucky kid to have a good Samaritan rescue her in the icy cold Fraser River.