WATCH: A ferry passenger tossed a life ring into the ocean after a woman jumped from BC Ferries vessel and ends up saving her life. April Lawrence reports.
Christopher Wood couldn’t believe what he witnessed as he took a BC Ferry home Monday evening.
“I pulled the fire alarm to announce to the ferry that someone had gone overboard,” said Wood.
Wood was on the Queen of Cowichan sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay when around 5:45 p.m. he saw a woman take off her clothes and jump from the vehicle deck into the frigid waters below.
As a fisherman, he knew what to do next.
“I grabbed the life ring and the EPIRB and I threw it over, I activated the EPIRB so they would have an approximate destination where she jumped,” Wood said.
What followed was a massive response from the Coast Guard, which sent multiple watercraft and a helicopter to the scene.
The Queen of Oak Bay joined the Queen of Cowichan in launching their own rescue boats.
A Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue boat from West Vancouver also joined in and was tasked with finding the life ring wood had tossed from the ferry.
“We found the life ring pretty quickly it had a light attached to it but it was still daylight at the time,” said search member Robert Alexander.
Alexander tossed it back in the water and continued to search, but as the hours ticked by it wasn’t looking good
“You go from hopeful to thinking we need to find who we’re looking for quickly or we’re not going to have a happy ending,” said Major Justin Olsen with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.
After five hours in the cold waters, the search was stood down.
“We believed the reasonable expectation of life had been reached,” said Olsen.
Robert Alexander’s crew went to retrieve the life ring once last time and couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the woman floating inside.
“To think that someone had managed to find the ring and get themselves into it and stay conscious, it was a miracle, we were gobsmacked the whole crew,” Alexander said.
Not only was she conscious, she smiled and waved at search crews.
Chris Wood takes great comfort knowing it’s the ring he tossed that saved her life.
“It made me happy just knowing she knew we cared and changed her mind and grabbed that life ring,” said Wood.