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North Bay man recognized for ice rescue — using a tape measure

'I just did my duty as a citizen in a time of need,' says Gary Bowen
Gary Bowen holding his Commissioner’s Citation for Lifesaving certificate and pin from the Ontario Provincial Police. Photo supplied.

NORTH BAY — A North Bay school bus driver has been recognized for his heroics. 

Gary Bowen, was recognized with the Commissioner's Citation for Lifesaving by the Ontario Provincial Police for his off-duty actions saving the life of a man who had fallen through the ice on a lake. 

While setting up his fishing hut during an ice fishing outing, a fellow fisherman approached Gary in a frenzy, telling him a man had fallen into the lake. Upon hearing this, Gary rushed over cautiously with the fisherman to where the man had fallen into the lake. After assessing the situation, Gary quickly rode to a nearby ice shack to seek equipment to rescue the man. Together, they pulled the man out from the lake with the only item Gary had found from the ice shack – a measuring tape – and proceeded to keep the man warm until Emergency Medical Services arrived. The man had been in the icy water for over an hour, and thanks to Gary and the other fisherman, he fully recovered.

“I am honoured to have been recognized by the Ontario Provincial Police,” said Gary Bowen, a Stock Transportation Bus Driver who has been working for the company for nearly four years. 

“I just did my duty as a citizen in a time of need. Anyone in that situation would have sprung into action, I’m sure. To be honest, it was a very distressing situation and experience, but I am relieved that we were able to save that man’s life. Although the community has named me a hero, I believe the true star of this situation is the man who fell into the lake because of his resilience of not giving up despite being in a dire situation. I want to thank that man for his strong will to survive, and of course, the community for recognizing me.”

Tim Feick, general manager at Stock Transportation in North Bay, says they are proud to have Bowen part of their amazing team of drivers. 

 “Gary is our resident 'ice-road-trucker' expert," said Feick.  

"He drives a home-to-school route into northern Ontario that is very isolated and prone to tricky winter weather conditions. I would not be surprised if his experience and familiarity with icy conditions played a part in how he was able to act quickly and safely to help rescue that individual on the lake. He is truly a humble, class act. We are lucky to call him our own.”


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Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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