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Ontario woman, pulled unconscious from B.C. waters, recounts harrowing experience

74-year-old grateful for assistance from Parksville beach rescuers

When Ontario resident Maureen Terrey was spotted floating, unconscious, in the waters off Parksville beach, she was eternally grateful that a nearby family trained in water rescue came to her aid.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3, at approximately 6 p.m., BC Emergency Health Services received a call regarding a potential drowning near McMillan Street and Beachside Drive in Parksville. Two ground ambulances and an air ambulance helicopter were dispatched to the scene.

Terrey said she doesn’t remember much of the rescue itself, but does remember being in the helicopter surrounded by “big guys” who kept turning her onto her side.

She and her friend had been staying at the Sea Edge Motel, an annual trip they make to specifically swim at Parksville Beach.

“I was just out there swimming by myself. I am an experienced swimmer, it’s not that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

While out in the water, Terrey felt a sudden onset of buoyancy in her body. She said it felt like she lost all co-ordination in her arms and legs.

“Like as if I was a cork floating in the water… and that seems to be an indication that I had a seizure.”

READ MORE: Ontario woman, 74, found floating in water near Parksville Community Park

Following the rescue, she was taken to the Victoria General Hospital for three days, and after a battery of tests, two doctors concluded that she likely experienced a small seizure while swimming.

Although Terrey said she doesn’t have a history of seizures, she was told it was likely attributed to the brain surgery she under went in November for glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer that forms in the brain or spinal cord.

“If that’s what it was, it was just big enough to throw me off so that I couldn’t get myself out of it.”

Since that fateful day, Terrey has kept in contact with the family that rescued her, who were also staying at the Sea Edge Motel and who were also from Ontario.

She said they told her one of their family members had previously seen her swimming, when they noticed her ‘waving about’ and decided to come check.

Recognizing she was in distress, Terrey was quickly lifted onto an inflatable float toy.

She said the mother of the family called out to her son, apparently trained in water rescue, who gave her two ventilations while on the float toy.

“They said once I was on shore, and although I was unconscious, I had a weak pulse and so CPR wasn’t necessary.”

Terrey was told that once she was brought to shore, two nurses who were also on the beach ran over to help and turned her onto her side to keep her from choking as she brought up water.

“So I was in the right place at the right time for something like this to happen,” she said.

“I am forever grateful to the families responsible for saving my life. They, with their experience and training, co-ordinated my rescue, called 911 and gave me the opportunity for this second chance to live a full life.”

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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