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Four municipal workers in British Columbia were honoured on October 28 with a special ceremony by Penticton city council in recognition of their heroic effort two weeks ago in saving a man from drowning.

On October 13, Parks maintenance worker Tony Molachyk was approached by a citizen along Lakeshore Drive at Penticton’s Okanagan Beach and told that a man swimming in the lake a long distance from shore might be in distress. After spotting the man in the water near the swimming buoys, then considering the cool and windy weather conditions, Molachyk decided to call his foreman, Todd Whyte. Whyte then phoned the fire department to report the situation, and the fire department dispatched a response team.

Two other CUPE 608 members, Ed Deuschle and Mauricio Cepeda, who operate the Parks workboat, overheard the radio conversation. Knowing that the Parks boat was moored at the Penticton Marina, they decided to take it out onto the lake to offer assistance to the swimmer.

When they located the man, nearly half a kilometer from shore and well past the swimming buoys, he was hanging onto a model airplane to stay afloat. Reportedly, the man’s radio controlled model airplane had crashed into the lake, and he had gone into the water to retrieve it. When a strong southerly wind pushed the airplane away from shore, the man continued swimming after it, not realizing the difficulty he would face trying to swim back against the wind.

The crew pulled the man into the boat and brought him to shore, where fire department staff attended. Apart from being cold—he was found shirtless and wearing jeans—the man appeared uninjured. Without the actions of the Parks staff, it is quite possible he would have drowned.

On October 28, framed certificates of appreciation were presented by Mayor Dan Ashton and chief administrative officer Annette Antoniak to Tony Molachyk, Todd Whyte, Ed Deuschle and Mauricio Cepeda in a special ceremony held in the City Yards staff room.

The certificates honoured the men for “acting decisively under critical circumstances and for exceptional team-work and commitment to duty” in their rescue efforts.

CUPE 608, along with the City of Penticton Parks, Recreation and Culture Division, commends these four workers for their exceptional teamwork and commitment to duty under critical circumstances.