Seven-year-old Carter Atkinson of South Surrey describes being pulled under by a strong current when he slipped and fell into deep water while swimming near Parksville.

Seven-year-old Carter Atkinson of South Surrey describes being pulled under by a strong current when he slipped and fell into deep water while swimming near Parksville.

Thankful for his life

South Surrey boy, 7, saved from drowning, wants to thank rescuer

Carter Atkinson would like to personally thank the man who saved him from drowning during a recent swimming trip to Vancouver Island.

“Thank you for my life,” the seven-year-old South Surrey boy said he would say, if he gets a chance to speak to his rescuer.

But neither he nor his parents know how to find the young man who dragged him from the rapids at Top Bridge Regional Park near Parksville on Aug. 11.

Carter was playing in shallow water up to his knees with his older brother, Will, when he suddenly slipped and fell into deeper fast-moving water.

The current dragged him under.

“The water was pushing me into the rock, so I couldn’t get out,” Carter recalled.

“I couldn’t breathe.”

As he struggled to get his head out of the water, Carter could hear his mother’s voice yelling for help.

Jennifer Atkinson was trying to get to Carter, but the current that was keeping him underwater was pushing her away.

“He slipped on the rocks and sort of fell backwards and got trapped in a bit of a hollow under the water,” she said. “He went under and stayed under. The force of the water kept pushing him down.

“I jumped in and tried to save him, but the rapids were too fast and strong and I kept getting pushed downstream.

“I was screaming and screaming,” she said.

A group of young men about “30 or 40 feet away” came to his aid.

Carter was just below the surface of the water when he felt two arms grab him around the waist and haul him to safety. Sputtering and coughing, he had swallowed a lot of water.

Without the young men’s actions, Jennifer Atkinson is convinced her son wouldn’t be here.

Carter is grateful to the man who pulled him out, and also grateful to a lady who helped him calm down afterwards by showing him how to give himself a “butterfly hug.”

His mother doesn’t know who the rescuers are, but she wants them to know she will always be thankful.

Carter celebrates his eighth birthday Thursday. Asked about his birthday plans, Carter cracked a joke.

“I hope I don’t drown.”

His mother says Carter, initially traumatized by his near-drowning, appears to have made a full recovery.

“There’s no huge fear of water,” she says.

His family is planning a trip to the Cultus Lake waterslides to mark the occasion.

– files from Neil Horner

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Dr. Bonnie Henry B.C.'s provincial health officer, updates the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
Province ‘ramping up’ COVID-19 vaccination effort in hard-hit Surrey

‘Door-to-door’ registration program in the works, says Dr. Bonnie Henry

Serena Deol, Jaspreet Deol, Madison Sweeney and Tanveer Pannu (pictured clockwise from top left) are Surrey United soccer players recruited to the University of Fraser Valley. (submitted photos)
Surrey United soccer quartet sign to play for UFV Cascades

Three of the university’s recruits are Panorama Ridge Secondary students

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

White Rock’s Joan Bywater shows the setup she uses when participating in online paint parties hosted by the Seniors Come Share Society. (Contributed photo)
PHOTOS: Virtual gallery showcases inspirations of Semiahmoo Peninsula seniors

‘What is art if not something that motivates more art?’

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read