The beach at Pipers Lagoon Park. (News Bulletin file photo)

The beach at Pipers Lagoon Park. (News Bulletin file photo)

Swimmers and boaters in Nanaimo rescue girl on inflatable blown out to sea

Winds and current carry out six-year-old girl from beach at Pipers Lagoon Park

A mother in Nanaimo wants to express her gratitude to people who helped rescue her daughter after the child was nearly blown out to sea.

Weiyang Li, who moved to Nanaimo recently from Ontario, was with her six-year-old daughter Abigail Quilter, enjoying an evening at Pipers Lagoon Park on Sunday when an incident unfolded at about 8 p.m. that could have been disastrous were it not for the help of bystanders.

Li said Abigail was on an inflatable shaped like a pizza when the wind carried the girl off shore and out to sea. Li said her daughter wasn’t wearing a life jacket and doesn’t know how to swim.

“My friends couldn’t reach her and then some other people saw that and started swimming too, but the wind, the speed, was faster than the people swimming … at least five people were trying to help,” Li said.

Swimmers attempted to reach the girl, but couldn’t. A kayaker managed to make it to the girl and got her onto the kayak, and a family in a larger boat responded as well and was able to bring the girl on board and return her to shore.

Dave Lawrence, owner of That 50’s Barber Shop, was one of the beach-goers who initially tried to swim out to help the girl but said the current and wind were pushing her out much too quickly.

“This one guy came out of nowhere and he swam out so quick to her, but then – I know you’ve got to go slow and steady because you’ve got to come back in – I think he made it almost to her and then just turned around and came back,” Lawrence said.

He said that person received assistance from Nanaimo Fire Rescue and B.C. Ambulance paramedics and was taken to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Nanaimo RCMP also attended the scene and called for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue, but the incident was over before that unit could respond, said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.

Lawrence said several people, including the girl’s grandmother, tried to swim out, but all were forced to abandon their efforts and return to shore. He could hear the girl’s screams and said the scene from her view must have been “terrifying.”

“I’m just so glad that she was OK,” he said. “The thing that motivated me was, you could hear her screaming and everyone came to help her but then everyone turned back … that would be so scary. You see people coming to hopefully help you and then turning back.”

Li said she is grateful to everyone who tried to help her daughter and she had been trying to contact the man who was taken to hospital to thank him personally.

“When my daughter came back I was just crying. There was nothing I could do or say, but now I just want to thank all of them … now I feel really lucky because my daughter is here…” Li said. “I feel so touched in my heart [by] this place. All the people, I don’t know their names … they tried to help. They’re good and kind people.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo creates water safety education team for city’s beaches



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

rescue

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Goldstream Food Bank vice-president Walter Dubeau is happy to help others by volunteering at the food bank’s Christmas hamper program. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Goldstream Food Bank Christmas Hamper program in full swing

Gratitude evident as hamper helpers happily give back

Leah Davis, store manager at Oscar & Libby’s in downtown Victoria, sets out stock at their Fort Street location. The pandemic has changed the way this retailer and others do business, says owner Teri Hustins. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Pandemic alters holiday business strategies for Victoria merchants

Many independent merchants count on holiday shopping to get them through quiet periods

The old home at 785 Island Rd. is coming down as the developer was unable to find a feasible business case to save it. (Black Press Media File Photo)
With no takers to move old Oak Bay home, teardown begins

‘We tried a last hurrah,’ developer says

West Shore RCMP pulled over a 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Nov. 23 after noting that it didn’t appear safe for the road. (West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP pull over vehicle held together by tape and cargo strap

RCMP deemed the vehicle unsafe for the road and had it towed away

The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year. (Black Press Media file photo)
Winter blues a concern for Vancouver Islanders during COVID-19 Christmas season

Statistics show British Columbians anticipate worsening mental health

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

An excavator was stolen from a rural property south of Nanaimo this month, say police. (Photos submitted)
Excavator stolen from property south of Nanaimo

Bobcat Mini believed to have been stolen between Nov. 12-14, say RCMP

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read