#2 Sheilah’s Sacrifice

Year in Review: She was supposed to help recover a missing woman’s vehicle. Instead she lost her own life.

She was supposed to help recover a missing woman’s vehicle. Instead she lost her own life.

Sheilah Sweatman, 29, of Ymir was a member of Nelson Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team, called out on June 29 to a bridge south of Creston, where a car had been spotted submerged in the Goat River.

While trying to attach a tow chain to the vehicle, she went overboard and didn’t resurface. Her colleagues found her body the following day. Compounding the tragedy, the body of Lana Chipesia, 23, the car’s owner, was discovered further downstream following an aerial search.

Sweatman was praised as one of the group’s most dedicated members — someone who always responded, no matter the task. Search and rescue became central to her life, and she was an integral part of the team.

Nelson Search and Rescue colleagues, along with representatives of other branches, attended a family service in her hometown of Winnipeg, while a public memorial at Lakeside Park a few weeks later drew hundreds of emergency responders from around BC.

Her brother Michael and parents Teddi and Wynn, who lovingly called her Sheesh, delivered emotional eulogies.

“Sheilah was always a work in progress, emerging and evolving from one beautiful stage and moving on to the next,” her mother said.

Framed by two pieces of Sweatman’s artwork, her parents painted a portrait of their daughter, sharing her passion, sense of adventure and creativity.

“Sheilah was the strongest woman I’ve ever known,” her search colleague Callie Chatten added. “She gave the best bear hugs, had a mischievous smile, and big brown eyes that could convey anything.”

Central Okanagan Search and Rescue named its new jet boat after Sweatman, while Nelson Search and Rescue will build a monument at its new North Shore headquarters with stones contributed from each of the province’s search and rescue groups.

A coroner’s inquest into Sweatman’s death will be held in Nelson next June.

A WorkSafeBC investigation also remains outstanding.

Just Posted

Kootenay Lake’s first marine waste pump-out opens

Sewage facility is located at the Prestige marina

1919: Nelson doctor drowns in Kootenay Lake saving child

And other news from a century ago in the Nelson Daily News

Lily Taylor, Levi Taylor win medals at Ogopogo Open

The local weightlifters were among seven Nelson athletes competing at the event

CHECK THIS OUT: Read B.C.! A roundup of books about our fair province

The Nelson Library’s Anne DeGrace gives us a B.C. Day book list

Nelson Leafs trade goalie Hunter Young to Rockies

Nelson will have an all-new duo between the pipes next season

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read