Katelynn Saengdala of Kitchener has been awarded a Carnegie Medal for helping save a Kitchener man and his daughter from drowning in Lake Erie two years ago.
The Carnegie Medal is considered the highest civilian honour for heroism in North America.
On August 27, 2020, a rip current had carried the 39-year-old father and his 12-year-old daughter away from shore in the Port Colborne area.
Saengdala, 32, immediately responded, even though she was still recovering from a spinal fracture suffered in a motor vehicle collision one month earlier.
She swam out, eventually reaching the pair about 50 feet from shore. Saengdala then grasped each one of them by one arm and kicked to move them toward shore. Exhausted from trying to get the pair back to shore, a man with a child's flotation toy arrived and aided the father and daughter the remaining distance to shore.
The father had swallowed water, was exhausted and short of breath. He was taken to hospital. His daughter was looked over at the scene, but did not require further medical treatment.
Saengdala suffered back pain, but recovered within one month.
She and the other 15 recipients for 2022 will also receive a financial grant.
The Carnegie Hero Fund was established in 1904 by industrialist-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, following the Harwick mine disaster near Pittsburgh, which claimed 181 lives.