Three local men honoured 

Heroes to receive Governor Generals award

Three locals are among the just under two dozen Canadians who will be getting medals of bravery from the governor general.

Michael Jean's office announced this morning that Vincent Massey of Whistler, and Steven Flynn and Paul Anthony Skelton of Pemberton are heroes for their part in rescuing a stranded ice sailor who broke through the ice of Green Lake in March 2005.

It all began one Saturday morning when a bystander saw Jurg Humbel sink into Green Lake after he lost the wind while kite skiing on thin ice about 200 metres off the Highway 99 viewpoint.

Humbel and his kite skiing were a familiar site on the lake in the winter but unseasonably warm weather had made Green Lake a treacherous place to be that Saturday.

“I made a few mistakes and judgement errors,” he said humbly at the time, adding that he had not checked the ice conditions on the roadside of the lake for about two days before heading out from the golf course side.

“Then I ran out of wind in a really bad spot, and then I started sinking and the ice was basically rotten, like a carpet caving in on me, and from then on it was survival.”

As Humbel struggled to survive, emergency professionals went into high gear after a witness called 911. The fire department was called to see if their ice-sled could reach him. A zodiac was called out but it was too slow breaking through the ice and Humble was getting dangerously close to letting go of his sail and sinking into the dark waters of the lake.

Coincidentally Blackcomb Helicopters owner Steve Flynn, a highly trained rescue pilot, was driving home for lunch when he saw the rescue underway. He was quickly called into action.

But as he hovered over Humbel it became clear the kite-skier was incapacitated by cold and could not help him self. Flynn had to dip the skid of the helicopter into the water and scoop out Humbel’s arm so that long-time professional mountain rescuer Paul Skelton and Whistler Search and Rescue member Vincent “Binty” Massey could grab him and pull him into the helicopter.

Flynn admitted at the time that the water surface rescue was a first for him and he believed it all came together because the team had trained together for years.

The recipients will be invited to receive their decorations at a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall at a later date.


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