Chelsea Little saves relatives in dramatic swimming rescue

Despite never having had any swimming lessons, Chelsea Little ended up rescuing her stepfather and her great uncle during a swim across Thorburn Lake in Clarenville Monday night.
Chelsea and Olivia Little, along with their mother Kerry McCann, explain how they saved their step-dad and great-uncle while swimming 5:53

Despite never having had any swimming lessons, Chelsea Little ended up rescuing her stepfather and her great uncle during a swim across Thorburn Lake in Clarenville Monday night.

The family, originally from Clarenville, now lives in Fort McMurray and is in Newfoundland on vacation.

Kerry McCann didn't want her daughters Chelsea Little, 15, and Olivia Little, 10, swimming across the approximate 183-metre lake on their own, so she asked her firefighter husband, Eddie McCann, to accompany them.
Chelsea Little, 15, and Olivia Little 11, rescued their relatives Monday. (Submitted by Kerry McCann)

"I was a little mad at first," says Little. "But I realized she had a point. But when she told us, 'My stepdad, if he came and decided to swim with us we could do it,' that made me a little happier."

McCann thinks they were in the water for about five to seven minutes when she started to hear screaming from the lake. It turned out Olivia was screaming for help for Eddie McCann.

Chelsea Little had turned around to ask Eddie McCann if he was okay. When he said, "No," she swam over to him. 

"He started to go under," said Little. "So I picked him up under his arms. He couldn't float so I picked him up and lifted him up on top of me.I slid under and put his head on my left shoulder. I started kicking my legs and kept him up on top of me. I swam from the middle of the lake all to the side where we were heading."

Heart attack

It turned out Eddie McCann was having a heart attack.

Little was able to drag Eddie McCann over to the rocks where Olivia Little kept him company. 

As Little was rescuing Eddie McCann, her great-uncle Greg Pelley jumped into Thorburn Lake to help them. But he started to lose strength about three-quarters of the way and couldn't swim anymore.

So Little went back in the water and dragged her great-uncle to the shore.

Both men are now recovering and Eddie McCann is in the hospital. 

The McCanns and their daughters are scheduled to fly back to Alberta on Aug. 15.

"I'm so proud," said Kerry McCann. "They're no less of a hero than the heroes we hear about."

With files from Azzo Rezori