Brian E. Desjarlais helped to save Jean Baptiste Ratt from drowning, le-…-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan, October 28, 1990. Ratt, 55, had paddled a canoe onto the Aubichon Arm of Lac le-…-la-Crosse to check a fishing net, when the canoe capsized, throwing him into the lake at a point about 400 feet from shore. Desjarlais, 29, and others who were on shore were alerted. Despite the near-freezing air and water temperatures and brisk wind, Desjarlais entered the lake and began to swim toward Ratt. After covering about half the distance, Desjarlais turned and began to retreat, but then he elected to proceed with the rescue. He swam to Ratt and positioned one of Ratt’s arms over the side of the canoe, then, stroking with one arm, Desjarlais struggled toward shore, towing the canoe. Two other men who had been alerted arrived on shore with another canoe, and one of them paddled out to Desjarlais and Ratt, reaching them about 75 feet from shore, and towed Ratt in the remaining distance, Desjarlais following. Ratt was hospitalized overnight and treated for hypothermia; Desjarlais likewise required hospital treatment for hypothermia. Both recovered.
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