What began as an afternoon paddle boarding down the Courtenay River turned into a dramatic rescue for Lee Murray last July, and has now resulted in an international award.
Murray came to the aid of Betty-Lou H. Nadelko tubing near Lewis Park as the tube she was in flipped over and she began to drift backwards.
Nadelko went underwater and couldn’t swim, so Murray dove in and swam to reach her.
Nadelko had a bag with a piece of rope attached to her hip which had anchored itself onto a rock under the water.
Murray saw she was quickly being asphyxiated as the rope became wrapped around her neck.
He grabbed the Nadelko’s ankle, dislodged the bag and pulled her on her back and floated about 200 yards down the river to the beach area where emergency personnel were called.
Nadelko required hospitalization due to the seriousness of her condition, but recovered.
As a result, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission presented Murray, along with 21 other people, with the Carnegie Medal — only one of two Canadians in 2014 to receive the award.
The medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.
Each of the awardees or their survivors will receive a financial grant, established by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Since its inception in 1904, the Commission has awarded 9,697 people with more than $36.2 million given in one-time grants, scholarship aid, death benefits and continuing assistance.