Coady MacDougall spent a few hours in late October fishing off the Nine Mile Creek wharf.
He and his uncle, Stephen Batchilder, reeled in several mackerel. However, as the 15-year-old MacDougall of Charlottetown notes with a well-earned sense of pride: “That wasn’t the catch of the day.’’
The greatest prize on this warm fall evening was saving a life.
It was close to 8 p.m. when MacDougall noticed a man leaning over the side of the wharf a couple hundred feet from where the teen was fishing.
MacDougall soon discovered the man was trying, unsuccessfully, to reach his wife, who had fallen in the water between a boat and the wharf.
The woman was yelling for help by the time MacDougall was standing on the edge of the wharf next to the woman’s husband.
“She was panicking and she kept saying ‘I can’t swim, I can’t swim,’ and she kept getting water in her lungs,’’ he said.
MacDougall tossed a life ring to the woman, but she was not able to get it around her. She started sinking. She appeared to have slipped from conciousness.
MacDougall, in turn, sprung into action.
“I basically just stripped down to my boxers and jumped in to try to save her,’’ he said.
The woman’s head was completely under water. MacDougall brought it above the water’s surface. He then grabbed the woman in water roughly 10 feet deep and started kicking as hard as he could.
Another man slapped the woman’s face in an attempt to get her to regain consciousness.
MacDougall mustered all his strength that was buoyed by high adrenaline to push the woman out from the water as two other men, including MacDougall’s uncle, pulled the woman out.
When MacDougall got out of the water and back on the wharf, the woman and her husband showered him in gratitude.
“They just couldn’t stop saying ‘thank you’, hugging me and saying ‘thank you,’’’ he said.
MacDougall was not much worse for wear after spending 10 or 15 minutes in the cold water. His glasses had remained on and he was still chewing the gum that was in his mouth when he plunged into the water.
“I was a little chilled,’’ he said.
“I just kind of pumped the heat up in the truck.’’
The dramatic rescue was brought to The Guardian’s attention by MacDougall’s proud neighbor Lisa Bennett.
“I thought this was remarkable what he had done,’’ said Bennett.
“It showed character that he thought about someone else other than himself. He saw someone in distress and reached out to help.’’
MacDougall says the day after he saved the woman, he couldn’t help thinking what might have been had he not been there and if nobody else jumped into the water in his stead.
“It just makes me wonder about things - just a strange feeling,’’ he said.
“Everything must happen for a reason, I guess.’’