Victoria, BC – Shortly after 7 p.m. last night, VicPD officers responded to reports of a woman screaming for help from a boat anchored near Banfield Park on the Gorge Waterway.
Initial information indicated that a woman was clearly in distress and the boat was sinking. As officers were arriving on scene, two paddle boarders started hitting the side of the boat, trying to render assistance.
As VicPD does not possess a marine unit or police vessels, officers reached out to partner marine response agencies while at the same time commandeering civilian vessels along the waterway to render emergency assistance to the woman, who was now reportedly screaming, “he’s trying to kill me.” Victoria Harbour Ferries also pitched in to assist, taking VicPD members to the location of the vessel in distress, as did several boaters who were in the area as well as local residents who offered their watercraft to assist officers. “The actions of these citizens was commendable and allowed VicPD officers to reach the vessel to render assistance,” said Chief Constable Del Manak. “However, this event also highlighted how important it is to have a clear protocol for a coordinated response to incidents like this in local waters. That is something we will be reviewing in the wake of this incident.”
As VicPD officers converged on the vessel with the help of these citizens, a man came up on deck and he was initially uncooperative and not compliant with police direction. Eventually, the man complied with police direction and officers were able to speak with the woman. She indicated that she was not in distress and did not need help from police. The man was therefore allowed to depart the vessel, which he did via a makeshift stand-up paddleboard made from a hot tub lid. No charges are being recommended from this incident and the vessel was not deemed to be in immediate danger of sinking.
Because of the assistance provided by six citizens in particular, responding officers have nominated them for VicPD Civic Service Awards. These awards will be conferred in a ceremony at VicPD headquarters at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, September 24th. “These six citizens stepped up and greatly assisted the Victoria Police Department when we needed them most,” said Chief Manak. “It will be my pleasure to pass on the gratitude of our officers through our VicPD Civic Services Awards, which they so richly deserve for their actions.”