Two young Kelowna men have received Medals of Bravery for saving several people from drowning in Wood Lake.
Stayton and Wynden Danylowich were presented with the honours by Gov.-Gen. Julie Payette at a ceremony Thursday in Ottawa.
“It was pretty overwhelming, and an incredible honour to receive these medals,” Wynden, 23, said later. “But honestly, we don’t feel like heroes.”
“We were just lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” added Stayton, 26.
The Danylowich brothers were at home on June 29, 2013, when they heard shouting from many people gathered on a nearby beach at the south shore of Wood Lake.
They ran over to investigate the commotion and quickly learned two children had been swept about 150 feet into the lake by fast-flowing creekwater. Conditions at the time were also stormy with strong waves.
The children’s father and another man had swum out to try rescue them, but the father had disappeared from sight and the other man was clearly struggling in the water.
Without hesitation, the Danylowich brothers, both of whom are strong swimmers, stripped down and plunged into the lake. They reached the children and the adult in less than a minute.
“We could see the kids were fighting for their lives, and the adult was doing his best to hold them up in the water, but he was really struggling himself,” Wynden said.
The brothers citation for bravery reads: “Working together, they helped a man and two children grab hold of the back of a paddleboat and pulled the sinking vessel to shore.”
After bringing the children and adult to shore, the Danylowich brothers went back into the lake looking for the children’s father. They were in the water for hours before being ordered out by emergency services personnel. The man could not be located and his body was later removed from the water.
“That’s what makes this day so emotional,” Wynden said. “Yes, lives were saved but also two children lost their father.”