Toronto

Tony Clement helps save drowning woman

Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement risked his life on Saturday to help rescue a woman from the Muskoka River.

Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement risked his life on Saturday to help rescue a woman from the Muskoka River.

Clement was having dinner with his wife in their home in Port Sydney, Ont., south of Huntsville, when a woman banged on the door.

She was "very frantic," Clement told CBC News Network, "saying that her friend was in the river drowning — and so myself and my father-in-law and my wife rushed down [to the river]."

Fully clothed, Clement jumped into the river, along with two neighbours. 

"I could see the swimmer in the water. I wasn't sure that she was conscious and there are rapids further downstream — so I knew that we only had moments to spare before she could be banged up by the rapids, if she wasn't already drowned. And so I dove into the water directly to try to swim out to her," Clement said.

Clement's wife and father-in-law worked their way down the river towards the rapids and managed to reach the woman. They put the woman, identified only as Jennifer, into a life-jacket and got her out of the water. 

"Basically it was a community effort, it wasn't just me at all," the minister said.

"It was my family and two other neighbours who also jumped in and we all worked together to deal with the situation."

Clement later related the whole episode on his Twitter account. 

"We rushed out & dove in. She was just too far away & I felt the undertow working on me. I had to get to the riverbank," he tweeted. "Fortunately Jennifer somehow figured out she could float on her back. Two others got her to shore … Post script: my wife Lynne and her father Doug got to Jennifer first. Another two locals jumped in too. It was a team effort."

"The reason that I used Twitter to communicate the story is to remind people about basic summer water safety," Clement said, "because I think that there's something like 200 drowning deaths in our lakes and rivers across the country every year.

"Every single one of those is preventable."