A man who says he was involved in a rescue at Thetis Lake on Sunday says more caution is needed amongst those who cliff jump.
Alex MacBean, 27, of Victoria, says he had gone to Thetis Lake alone that day, hoping to enjoy some swimming and cliff-jumping himself, when he ran into to two men around his age. They were drinking he said, and quite intoxicated. The trio was standing atop a popular diving cliff known as ‘Big Ben’ when things went wrong.
“One of the guys went for a flip and he over-rotated it,” MacBean said, adding that it took about eight seconds for the man to surface in a face-down ‘dead man’ float.
“He didn’t hit anything he just didn’t hit the water right,” MacBean said. “If you don’t land right, the water starts to turn into concrete the higher up you get.
“I was already on my toes, ready to jump in after him…as soon as he started going under water I had to jump.”
Opening his eyes underwater, MacBean said he could see the man about three feet in front of him and three feet below. He managed to pull the man to the surface and enlist the help of some nearby paddle boarders.
“I couldn’t check his breathing or his pulse and he was unresponsive. I was panicking a little bit,” MacBean said. “Thankfully he came to, and he didn’t have any water in his lungs. He didn’t know what was going on but the paddle boarders came over and we loaded him and paddled him to shore.”
MacBean said he doubled back to get his belongings and by the time he returned, paramedics were loading up the cliff-jumper, who he recalls being responsive at that time.
“It was a miracle that he was okay,” MacBean said. “This happening put a lot of stuff in perspective. You should always have a spotter and you should always have a plan and obviously not be drinking.
“One – you’re more likely to have an accident and two – you’re more likely to become unconscious.”
MacBean called the incident a “wake-up call” and said he won’t ever be cliff-jumping again without checking the depth of the water below, having an exit strategy and having a spotter already in the water.
“I had became complacent over time and I want to take this incident and share it as strong reminder of the real dangers of this sport and how you can mitigate them,” he said. “Unfortunately simply asking people not to jump isn’t going to stop them. But knowing the importance to to have a spotter drastically minimizes the risk and could potentially save a life.”