Emergency crews saved a woman from the water near Willows Beach on Saturday after a man found her personal belongings on the shore.
Around 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 4, Oak Bay Fire Rescue received a call from Oak Bay Police saying a person was possibly in the ocean near Willows Beach Tea Room.
Oak Bay Fire assistant chief Roger Stewart said fire crews responded and in the process dispatched BC Ambulance Service as well as the Royal Canadian Coast Guard.
“When we arrived we were able to observe a person in the water about 400 metres off shore,” Stewart said. “We were able to make contact with Oak Bay Sea Rescue who were conducting training in the area and guide them to the person.”
Stewart said a wind surfer was also in the area and stayed with the woman until Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue Station 33 Oak Bay (RCMSAR Oak Bay) could respond.
Chad Gottfried was the coxswain with RCMSAR Oak Bay at the time and said they were able to respond within a minute once they were contacted. The RCMSAR Oak Bay crew got the woman on the boat and brought her to shore where an ambulance took her to hospital.
Gottfried said the woman was cold and mildly hypothermic.
Ivona Korbler witnessed the incident. Korbler said she was walking along the beach when she came across a man who had found a pair of boots and a jacket on the beach. She said the man was already calling the police when she heard screams coming from the water.
Korbler said she thinks the woman was in the ocean for at least 30 minutes.
“I was hopeful that she would be saved,” Korbler said. “It’s so important people do something when they see something unusual and it’s amazing [the man] didn’t just look away when he saw something.”