Right Place, Right Time
By John Swartz
“It was all a matter of seconds,” Ray Fischer said of his adventure on the boardwalk in Centennial Park last Labour Day weekend.
He and Jeff Noble were celebrated at Monday night’s Orillia council meeting and presented with certificates for their combined effort to save a woman who could have drown.
Noble was enjoying the sun and people watching from his pickup truck parked in the boat launch parking lot. There were lots of people passing by and he noticed a woman fishing from the boardwalk.
“There was 4 young youth, late teens, early 20s, one of the bunch took a running start and pushed this lady into the water. She was elderly,” said Noble.
“She was only 50-something,” Fischer corrected.
“She was? Well, there you go.” Noble said. The pusher ran off toward the playground, but the others didn’t get far.
“A bunch of men there walking with their families and they tried to subdue the three. A bit of a scuffle took place and I tried to assist in the scuffle. Then all I heard was, “she’s underwater!”” said Noble.
“I went over to the boardwalk and all I could see from my point of view was Ray flying like Superman into the water.”
“I forgot my cape though,” said Fischer. He said it wasn’t so much as a dive, but a jump feet-first into Lake Couchiching. Fortunately the water level was down quite a bit.
“I couldn’t really touch bottom. When I was trying to get her over I had to sort of swim. It was well over her head anyway. I couldn’t see her at first, I couldn’t find her. She was right under water,” Fischer said.
Two boats were tied up either side of the rescue spot and Fischer had difficulty getting the lady up out of the water. Noble was trying to pull her up, but he said despite the woman being smaller, she was wet, making her heavier to pull.
“There was people standing there. They all had their phones out. They were videotaping, they were watching, but no one did anything to help,” said Noble. Eventually a third man neither Noble nor Fischer found out the name of stepped in to help pull the woman from the water. As it was, Fischer was alone between two boats with no footing pushing from below.
“In doing so, (Fischer) sliced his arm pretty good,” said Noble. It wasn’t easy getting out of the water because the boardwalk was higher than normal relative to the water level, so Fischer made it over to one of the boats and was helped out by another man. Fischer, once he had his thoughts collected, asked the fellow where he was from and he just said Turkey.
The woman was breathing so Noble, a Barrie fire fighter, didn’t have to put his training to use. He did not get away scot-free though. He was in his truck and not out taxing himself with a walk because he was recovering from a shoulder injury he had from playing hockey.
“I tore the ligaments in my shoulder again and I have to have that operated on now,” said Noble.
Both men have spoken to the woman since.
“A testimony to immigrants, the whole family came up the next week and bought us lunch,” said Fischer. “She phones me every special occasion.”
Fischer has only lived in Orillia for two years, arriving from 4 years in Brechin after a lifetime in Newmarket. The men have become friends.
No one had called the police, so Noble did, but neither he or Fischer were able to say what happened to the youths.
“What this man did was unbelievable,” Noble said of Fischer. “Honestly, I give all the credit to Ray. I was just there to help with what I could.”
(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia ) Main: Ray Fischer and Jeff Noble point to the spot where their presence came in handy last Labour Day weekend.