A Queen’s student and medical resident rescue elderly woman from drowning

Queen’s student honoured at Carr-Harris hockey game for heroics

Image by: Kendra Pierroz
Sam Roe (middle) was honoured for his heroics before Thursday night’s Carr-Harris hockey game.  Tobe was unable to attend.

“As I was getting my socks and shoes on, there was a policeman who [came] over and starts telling us that we saved this woman’s life,” Josh Tobe said.     

On Wednesday evening, two strangers — a Queen’s student and medical resident — were jogging along a path along Lake Ontario when an elderly woman drove her vehicle into the freezing cold water of Elevator Bay near King St. West.

The two rescuers share their story:

Sam Roe, Sci ’19, a member of the Queen’s varsity rowing team, said he was alarmed when he noticed the vehicle moving toward the water. 

Roe recalls seeing the car rolling off a hill and crashing into the pavement about 20 feet from where he was running. The car then bounced off some rocks into the water and proceeded to drift about 20 feet out into the bay. 

Roe: “That was pretty traumatic to see because it looked really violent.”

After trying to get a better look at the car, Roe noticed two other women who witnessed the scene and ran over to where they were standing. 

Roe: “They were calling 911 so I ran back to where the car went in because that was the closest way to get to it, and that’s when the guy Josh showed up.”

Minutes prior, Josh Tobe, a 28-year-old Queen’s Family Medicine resident, was running along his regular route. 

Approaching the scene, Tobe spotted the two women pointing at the lake. Taking a closer look, he saw the car and the women told him that someone was inside. 

Tobe: “I’ve taken that route a bunch of times and I know that most of the people in the condo there are geriatric, so I figured that someone probably hit the gas instead of the break and drove themselves into the lake.”

Tobe quickly joined Roe by the east side of the bay. 

Roe: “I remember thinking like, if I don’t at least try to help then that will be like an awful thing to live with. But also if I go out there and be more involved in this and she does die then that will also be awful, so I remember being paralyzed.”

Both men decided that they had to go in, tossing their phones and shoes to the pavement before entering the water. 

Tobe: “The water is rising, the car is sinking, and the waves are pretty strong, just kind of slapping the car around.”

Roe: “We weren’t sure really what was going on, we weren’t sure if we would be able to get her out once we got there, we weren’t sure if she was conscious.”

Both men waded their way out to where the sinking car was. Roe recalls that the water level was just below the car window. 

Once they reached the car, Tobe said he saw an elderly woman with short-cropped grey hair inside. 

Tobe: “She looks at me, I look at her, we exchange no words. She is looking at me like, ‘where am I, how did I get here, and who are you’ but there is an understanding that I am there to get her out.”

Tobe said there wasn’t much water in the car when they arrived, but when they opened the door water began to rush in.

Roe grabbed the woman’s shoulders while Tobe took her legs, and together they waded her onto the shore where police and first responders were waiting.

According to the Kingston Whig-Standard, the woman was treated by paramedics for minor injuries and was taken by Frontenac Paramedic Services to the hospital  as a precaution. 

Tobe and Roe were forced to sit in a Kingston Fire and Rescue truck to wait for their adrenaline to go down. 

Roe: “Honestly, I had always wanted to go in a fire truck so getting to go in was pretty cool.” 

Aside from being cold and minor cuts to the bottom of Tobe’s foot, both men were unharmed.

Sam Roe and Josh Tobe after working together to save an elderly woman. (Supplied by Sam Roe)

Once they were permitted to leave the fire truck, Roe and Tobe ran home together. 

Tobe: “I joked with him, I said ‘if you were a faster runner, if you were in any better shape she would have hit you.’”

Roe: “It was very traumatic because we weren’t sure — is the car going to sit there? Is the car going to sink? Is the woman going to drown? Are we going to get out there to watch the woman drown or is it going to be fine? I remember waking up today just thinking this was weird.”

According to the Whig-Standard, the vehicle was left overnight in the water and was removed the following morning.

The two were honoured for their heroics before Thursday night’s Carr-Harris hockey game. Roe was in attendance while Tobe was unable to attend.

#queensu hero, Sam Roe will be at the #CarrHarrisCup game to assist with the puck drop at the @KROCKCentre https://t.co/UkCIcpZTYy

— Queen’s University (@queensu) February 4, 2016


accident, car accident, Carr-Harris, Carr-Harris Cup, Elevator Bay, Heroics, Lake Ontario

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