Seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam has just begun swimming lessons but is already being recognized for selfless bravery in the water.
On Saturday, July 11, Cody was with his family and friends at Sicamous’ Beach Park on Shuswap Lake. At around 11 a.m., Cody was on one of the docks floating in the park’s flooded swim area when he saw another boy who had jumped from the dock without a lifejacket get caught up in a current. The other boy, a 10 year old, began to panic and call for help, so Cody, who was wearing a lifejacket, leapt into the water to rescue him.
“He didn’t think, ‘Oh, I have a lifejacket on, I can save him, he just jumped in because that’s what people do,” said Cody’s mother Kim Krabbendam. “Had he not been wearing a life-jacket, it probably would have been a different story.”
Kim said the other boy’s father saw what was going on and swam to the dock, where he attempted to calm down his son who was pulling Cody beneath the water.
“We talked to them after and the mom said he (the father) has a medical condition,” said Kim. “She was amazed he actually made it do the dock. He kind of panicked and jumped in after his son, but then knew he couldn’t help him once he got into the water. So then he tried to talk to him to calm him down and then my son was talking to him to calm him down, and that’s ultimately what calmed him down.”
Kim said the boys were calm and afloat when she and two friends reached them and helped them to a buoy where they stayed until more life-jackets and an inflatable dinghy were brought from the shore.
“Everybody played a little part in it, from passing life-jackets to blowing up a dinghy, it was pretty hectic,” said Kim, who was grateful to Becky and Ben Roodzant who assisted in rescuing the boys.
The whole experience lasted approximately 15 minutes.
Kim said her family, who live in Ranchero, and the family of the other boy talked and hugged afterward, though she didn’t get their names.
Since the rescue, the word “hero” has come up around the Krabbendam household, though Kim said Cody’s embarrassed when other people bring it up.
“We’re so proud of him,” said Kim. “He’s normally a pretty rambunctious child, so it was very surprising he could just be calm and so responsible in that moment. And that’s why we want to do something for him to remember it by.”
Kim contacted the Sicamous RCMP to see if they might be able to provide a certificate or something to recognize Cody’s good deed. Sgt. Murray McNeil said he liked the idea and would be looking into nominating Cody for a Canadian Red Cross Rescuer Award.
Asked if Cody had taken swim lessons, Kim said he was to start on Thursday, July 16. And, despite the traumatic experience in Sicamous, the family continues to visit and swim at beaches in the Shuswap.
“Even after, when we were sitting on the beach, he said, ‘Mom, how many lives have you saved?’ He didn’t realize this is a unique thing, it doesn’t happen all the time,” said Kim.