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Saved from a watery grave

Don Czerniak was just driving up to the intersection at Channel Parkway and Skaha Lake Road in Penticton Wednesday night, when he witnessed an unexpected sight.

He was about 300 feet away, near the bridge, when he saw a truck travelling at full speed go right through the intersection. 

"It was one of those things that happen, where you question did that really happen," he said.

The next thing he saw was the vehicle going through a metal gate, getting airborne and hitting the water in Skaha Lake.

The Penticton contractor stopped and called 911, and as he was talking to them, he went to help the woman who was in the vehicle get out of the water.

"It was so dark, you couldn't see anything, but I could hear the woman's voice close to the shore," he said.

He helped the completely soaked woman out of the water and at this point could hear the man who was in the truck asking for help.

The woman told him the man couldn't swim, so Czerniak went to help.

"I could see the red tail lights floating in the water, and I tried to coax him to come in closer to the shore," he said. "Once I saw him, I grabbed his hand and helped him up the bank."

There were other vehicles stopped by this time, and a woman driver came down with blankets to wrap around the pair.

Czerniak did not see any signs of injury, but the pair were cold and shocked, and he recalled the man saying, "he didn't know what happened, all of a sudden he was in the water."

Once the police and other emergency personnel arrived on scene, he left. The last thing he observed was the pair being cared for in an ambulance.

Czerniak admits he just did what anyone would have done.

"I knew I needed to get over and help them get out of the channel," he said. "It is shallow there, but there is a really strong current."

He said other vehicles have gone into the lake at that location, but he's never witnessed it before.

According to the Penticton RCMP, the 2009 Dodge Ram, with a male driver, age 33, and female passenger, 49, went into the lake just after 8 p.m.

Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said the couple were not impaired, but it is believed the vehicle was going too fast and driver inattention could be a factor.

Earlier in the week, he said the investigation was ongoing. The RCMP could not be reached Friday to confirm whether or not there will be charges.



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