Daring rescue

Daring rescue

February 4, 2016


[Sam Roe]
Queen's student Sam Roe (Artsci'19), pictured, and Joshua Tobe, a medical resident, helped rescue a woman after her car crashed into Lake Ontario on Wednesday, Feb. 3. (University Communications)

A pair of Queen’s students are being hailed as heroes after rescuing a woman from the freezing waters of Lake Ontario

Faced with a life-threatening situation, Sam Roe (Artsci’19) and Joshua Tobe, a resident at Queen’s Family Medicine, took action and pulled an elderly woman from her car after it had crashed into Elevator Bay on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

It’s a question only a few will ever deal with: What will you do when faced with a real-life emergency?

[Joshua Tobe]
Joshua Tobe

For Mr. Roe, 19, and Dr. Tobe, 28, they took action.

The two were both out for a run along the lakefront near Lake Ontario Park when the woman’s car went over a ledge and into the water.

When the car first landed on the pathway it missed Mr. Roe by only a few metres. He said the incident didn’t seem real at first, but he quickly gathered his wits and went into action.

There were two women nearby and he checked with them to see if they saw someone in the car. They said they did and he asked them to call 911.

By that time Dr. Tobe had arrived on the scene and as he approached the situation, his training with the Queen’s Family Health Team kicked in.

“We had a rural session up in Temagami in August which was three days of sort of what do you do when you have nothing and how to use your wits to get you safely out of a potentially dangerous situation,” he says. “That’s what took over and I sort of realized that retrospectively as that’s what I was running through – the various scenarios in my head and assessing the situation – before I jumped into the water.”

From shore, he tried to get the woman’s attention but there was no reaction. After determining that it was safe to go into the water the two jumped in. Despite the mild winter so far the water was still cold and Mr. Tobe found it hard to take a deep breath at first.

The car by this time had drifted further out and when they reached it the depth of the water was about chest height, Mr. Roe says.

As they arrived the woman was trying to get out of the car. They opened the door, grabbed her and made their way back to shore.

The police and fire department had arrived by that time and took over. The woman is reported to be unharmed and recovering.

For the Queen’s duo, who had never met before, it was an event they will remember the rest of their lives.

For Mr. Roe, the decision to jump in the water was easy.

“I just knew that if something had happened and I hadn’t gone in the water it would have been much worse,” he says.

Both were filled with adrenalin and simply continued on with their run once they were released from the scene.

“The water was very cold but I remember not feeling it,” Mr. Roe says. “Even after it happened they asked me if I wanted to warm up in the firetruck and we were both like ‘We got to run home.’”  

After that he texted and called his parents, Queen’s grads both, who are understandably proud.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of the incident was at the beginning when the car fell off the ledge and onto the pathway. Mr. Roe say that if it happened a few seconds later he could have been crushed. At the same time he is amazed that the two – a rower who is comfortable in the water and a trained medical resident – were in the right place at the right time.

“I am happy that I did do something,” Mr. Roe says. “It’s good to know that I would do something."