Man who helped save drowning swimmer from Thetis Lake shares story


Father’s Day is a time when kids look up to their dad as a hero.

But one dad who was celebrating with his family near Thetis Lake may have lived up to the name more than others.

On Sunday Chris Rolfe, his wife Cheryl and his 12-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter witnessed a man drowning near the upper part of the lake around 4 p.m.

“We thought they were just fooling around, for a second… one guy seemed to be bobbing in the water and I started getting concerned,” said Cheryl.

“I could hear a commotion on the lake and a cry for help and my wife said Chris go help,” said Chris.

Even though he was in the middle of getting changed after swimming, he didn’t hesitate and jumped in.

“I dove down underneath him and I didn’t have my glasses on… so I couldn’t see that clearly but I saw a white blob. and felt it and realized it was a human… then pulled him to the surface and some other people helped me pull him to a paddle-board,” said Chris.

While the paddle-boarder headed to shore, one man started CPR while Chris started artificial respiration — for the man who was in his 20’s.

Chris is trained in occupational first aid, and was even in the Coast Guard when he was younger.

After they made it to shore, the man soon woke up and first responders quickly arrived and took him away.

“It takes a while to come down from something like that… your adrenalin is pumping… and I became conscious I was naked and I swam back to my wife…. but there’s a number of people involved and it wasn’t just me,” said Chris.

Cheryl says they made sure to debrief with the family after. During the incident their 12-year-old even borrowed a raft and tried to paddle over to quickly help.

Thetis is just one of the many lakes around greater Victoria that get quite busy this time of year, and officials say the incident is a good reminder for the public to take precautions.

“Thetis has an unfortunate history when it comes to drownings,  we’ve lost a few people in that lake… know your abilities, don’t swim when you are tired. End of day is a tough day to be swimming,” said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst.

“If you are going to play around water and you don’t know how to swim, of-course a personal flotation device or swim with a partner, or don’t go to far out.”

As for Chris, particularly since his son wants to be a lifeguard, it’s a father’s day he won’t ever forget.

“It’s nice being able to be a hero in front of your kids I guess,” adds Chris.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!