Heroes saved boaters

To the two boaters who were recently honoured with a Governor General’s award for saving three missing anglers from the frigid waters of Gull Lake.

Bouquet…

To the two boaters who were recently honoured with a Governor General’s award for saving three missing anglers from the frigid waters of Gull Lake.

The seemingly-doomed trio was fishing during the 2008 Victoria Day long weekend when a sudden storm whipped up and swamped their boat.

Rob Steenwyk, formerly of Red Deer and now of Kelowna, and his pal Ralph Kaiser, of Sherwood Park, spotted the three missing fishermen just before nightfall.

The three were bobbing around in the water wearing life-jackets, suffering from extreme hypothermia, when Steenwyk and Kaiser came to their rescue.

Steenwyk, an experienced boater, has been down playing his role in the rescue. “I just happened to be there at the right time and the right place,” he said.

But these two men are well-deserving of the recognition.

The three fishermen found themselves in a boat with a dead battery and no gas.

They were bombarded by a surprise Gull Lake storm. That lake is notorious for storms that kick up challenging waves and winds without warning.


Bouquet…

Speaking of heroes, a bouquet to the Squamish, B.C., mother who single-handedly overpowered a full-grown, male cougar after it pounced on her three-year-old daughter while the pair were berry picking.

It was 7 p.m. on Tuesday when Maureen Espinosa heard a sound in the woods and saw the big cat pounce on her little girl, Maya.

“I knew I had to act fast and I just dove in between them and put my body on her and then I kind of stood up and used my body weight to push him off of me and just grabbed her and ran as fast and loud as I possibly could,” said Espinosa.

Fear and panic didn’t sink in until the mother noticed “the cougar was right behind us. . . . There was a lot of blood ” from her daughter’s wounds.

The predator gave up the chase and Maya was treated in hospital for scratch and puncture wounds. Wildlife officers later tracked a male cougar in the area and shot it.

Espinosa’s actions show what can be accomplished when maternal instinct kicks in.

She exemplifies the ultimate sacrifice parents are willing to make when armed with unconditional love to protect their child.


Dart…

To a crew of animal rights activists who have once again proved there’s not much grey matter between their ears in a latest controversy over the annual seal hunt off the East Coast.

This time, the brain-challenged animal smoochers have trained their sights on a Montreal restaurant owner who’s been bombarded with death threats because part of his menu includes seal meat.

Benoit Lenglet said animal-rights activists, mostly from France and Belgium, have inundated his inbox with emails saying he is “going to die” and “going to burn in hell.”

“They don’t understand what we’re doing, they just see the hunt,” Lenglet said inside his restaurant Au 5ieme peche, in that city’s trendy Plateau-Mont-Royal district.

“They don’t see the economy with that (the hunt); they don’t see the people who live from that.”

For two years, Lenglet’s cosy restaurant, which seats 32, has been serving seal tartar, seal pepperoni and seal-smoked meat. (For the record, the meat tastes like duck, not chicken.)

The first threats arrived after a news item on his bistro’s fare was published in Europe.

Those involved in this hate campaign have reached a new low. Their blatant disrespect for a human life, over that of a seal, is behaviour that may require a psychiatric evaluation and certainly a lesson in anger management.

What’s really pathetic is these people are puzzled that their overzealous campaigns are not taken seriously by a civilized society.


Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.

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