A rookie RCMP officer in Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., is being praised for pulling two people out of the Beaufort Sea early Wednesday morning.
Police in the Arctic hamlet said Const. Shaun De Grandpre received a call at home at 4:43 a.m. MT about a man threatening to commit suicide by drowning himself in the sea's icy waters.
De Grandpre called another officer, Const. Richard Bushey, and they rushed to the shore to find a man and woman struggling in the water, about 100 metres out into the ocean.
"They made the decision that in order to get them back safety, Const. De Grandpre would need to swim out to them and bring them back. And he did so safely, and there was no injuries to either of them," Const. Benjamin Kershaw, acting commander of the Tuktoyaktuk detachment, told CBC News late Wednesday.
Very cold water
Police say De Grandpre took off his duty belt, vest and boots and swam out into the sea, which still has chunks of ice floating in the water.
"It's 24-hour sunlight up here, so it was completely bright out, and it was warm out, but the water was definitely very, very cold," Bushey recalled.
"The guy was trying to stay out in the water and he was trying to swim out farther. So Shaun grabbed him and he brought him in."
Kershaw said De Grandpre helped the woman to a point where she could touch the bottom, then brought the man to shore. The man was examined for mild hypothermia at the local health centre.
Kershaw said De Grandpre is a new RCMP recruit with less than six months of service under his belt.
'I just went out and that was it. The training kicked in.' —Const. Shaun De Grandpre
For his part, De Grandpre said his muscles felt a little sore "from the shock of the cold," but he otherwise felt fine.
"When I got out of the water, I mean, I don't think it hit right away just because of, I guess, the adrenaline and … the shock of jumping in the water right away," De Grandpre told CBC News.
"Once everything settled and we got back to the detachment and I got a fresh change of clothes, that's when it hit, and I had to get a sweatshirt and try to kind get myself warmed up a bit."
De Grandpre said he would not describe himself as a strong swimmer, but said he's not afraid of the water either.
"I didn't really think about it," he said.
"I just said, 'You know what? There's two people out there that needed assistance and needed assistance immediately,' and I just went out and that was it. The training kicked in."