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B.C. woman who rescued drowning teen wins ‘highest honour for civilian heroism’

A West Vancouver woman will recieve a prestigious honour for her actions to rescue a drowning teenager last year.

The Carnegie Medal is billed as North America’s “highest honour for civilian heroism.” The award is granted annually to people who risk their own lives to save others.

Emilyn Golden was at Dundarave Beach on Sept. 9 with her two children when she heard frantic shouting.

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She looked up to see the teen, who is on the autism spectrum, in the water — where he had been pulled more than 100 metres from shore by the tide.

Golden leapt into action, stripping down to her underwear and braving the cold water and large waves to find the boy.

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Click to play video: '‘Nothing short of a hero’: Woman praised for heroic efforts in challenging rescue at West Vancouver beach'

‘Nothing short of a hero’: Woman praised for heroic efforts in challenging rescue at West Vancouver beach

“It’s so clear in my mind, I feel like any traumatic experience that you have in your life is imprinted on you so everything is very clear for me,” she said.

In an interview with Global News just days after the scary incident, Golden said she swam up to the boy to find his lips were already blue from the chilly ocean waters.

She said she was aware he had autism, so she kept her distance and tried to speak sensitively — but that the boy was afraid and began to swim deeper into the water.

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“I gave all my power and I went to go swim around in front of him so he would stop swimming out towards the middle of the ocean. He started kicking me and pushing me away,” Golden recalled at the time.

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“I just said, ‘Your mom’s on the beach, she’s got popsicles, they’re yellow.’”

She was able to get close enough to him to grab his shirt and managed to keep his head above water, swimming with just one arm against the current, until a rescue boat responded and plucked them from the ocean.

At the time, West Vancouver police Const. Kevin Goodmurphy described a “frantic scene” at the beach, where police had been called by the boy’s caregivers.

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He told Global News he saw Golden in the water, describing her as a “hero” who had put her life at risk and deserved all the recognition in the world because she absolutely saved this person’s life.”

The Carnegie Medal has been awarded to more than 10,300 people since it was created by the Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Hero Fund in 1094.

“You don’t receive the award without it being obvious that you put your life at risk to save someone else’s,” Golden said in an interview Thursday.

“So for me to receive it is also a little make me feel a little bit uneasy too knowing that I did put myself at risk. But I think you can’t do anything extraordinary without some level of risk involved.”

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Golden is slated to receive her medal at some point in the coming months.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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