Whistler girl pulled from river 35 years ago sought by rescuer 

Ashcroft resident on 'bucket-list' mission to find family from resort

click to enlarge FACEBOOK PHOTO - RECALLING A RESCUE Ashcroft resident Galen Yuyutsu hopes to find the Whistler girl he says he saved from a river near Rock Creek in the late 1970s.
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  • RECALLING A RESCUE Ashcroft resident Galen Yuyutsu hopes to find the Whistler girl he says he saved from a river near Rock Creek in the late 1970s.

Thirty-five years later, Galen Yuyutsu has vivid memories of rescuing a young Whistler child from certain death.

But some of the other details surrounding a decades-old incident remain hazy, and the B.C. man is hoping to track them down — and find the drowning girl he said he pulled out of a river in the Interior some time in the late 1970s.

"It's been on my mind for a lot of years," said Yuyutsu.

The 60-year-old Ashcroft resident remembers this much: He was attending a solstice party along a stream in the Rock Creek-Bridesville area — placing the event sometime in late spring or early summer — when he spotted a three- or four-year-old girl who had slipped into the water and was in obvious distress.

"I had just heard one of the mothers saying to the children: 'Don't go near the creek; it's very dangerous,'" Yuyutsu recalled when contacting Pique from Thailand, where he spends several months per year when not at home in B.C. "Then I looked in the creek and saw a sneaker, so momentarily, I hesitated, thinking, 'That's unusual.'

"A second later, I saw a sock, too, so I knew there was something attached to it."

Yuyutsu jumped into the water and reached the girl before she disappeared under the water's surface, he said. The girl's father jumped in, too, and the three were tossed a rope and pulled back to the safety of shore.

"She spit up a lot of water, and of course she was in shock," Yuyutsu said. "The mother's face was white, because she was in shock, too."

Once the girl came around, Yuyutsu said he spent the evening chatting with her family while sitting around a hot stove.

"I asked them where they were from, and they said were from Whistler," he said. "The next morning, we said our goodbyes, and that was it."

Now Yuyutsu, a retired member of Canada's armed forces, said he's kicking himself for never getting the family's name. Finding the girl, her family and what became of them is on his "bucket list" as he deals with "health problems of a serious nature."

"I'm just looking for closure to some of these situations (in life)," he said. "Some of them I have."

Indeed, Yuyutsu has been able to cross a few items off that bucket list — he has reconnected with estranged children, become a dedicated Buddhist and a student of the martial art of Muay Thai.

But the mystery of the Whistler girl who nearly drowned continues to vex him.

"I'm just trying to close the book more or less," he said. "(That girl) might be grown up, married and have children of her own at this point... I'm sure the parents would have mentioned to the little girl, as she was getting older that this had happened.

"And, I know that at that time the population of Whistler was not that great."

That's why Yuyutsu has approached the media, hoping that the girl or family he met that day still has ties to the resort, and is reminded of the near-death experience.

Anyone who has information about the incident can contact Yuyutsu by email directly at galenyuyutsu@gmail.com.

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