The guardian angel of Christina Lake

Prestige employee Lisa Collyer has received multiple awards for saving a man's life in 2013.

Lisa Collyer saved the life of a Burnaby man named Frank Barbosa.

Nelson’s Lisa Collyer was commuting along Highway 3A in the early afternoon of April 20, 2013 when she spotted an elderly couple standing on the shoulder. They seemed to be looking down into the roadside creek.

“I came around the corner and there was quite a steep embankment, and then I noticed this elderly couple,” Collyer told the Star. “A little voice in my head said: pull over.”

She climbed out of her car, leaving her dog Harper behind, and was horrified to discover an overturned car in the creek. Two men were already frantically trying to rescue the submerged driver.

“They had witnessed the car go off the road so they’d already gone down there and cut him loose from the seatbelt…They went under the water and got him on top of the vehicle. I yelled down to them ‘do you know CPR?’”

They didn’t, but she had recently taken a course as part of her employment with the Prestige. So she decided to act.

I’d renewed my Occupational First Aid about a month before that, so I went down the embankment gave my keys to the couple and asked him to take care of my dog then I got into the water and they pulled me up on to the car. He was lying on the undercarriage, which was really hot because the car had been running.”

She didn’t know the man’s name at that point, but she’s since learned that he was Frank Barbosa from Burnaby. The other two rescuers continued to search underwater for other passengers while she performed CPR.

“I cleared his airway, he had a lot of mucus because he’d been underwater for a while. I did a bit of resuscitation and then after about twenty minutes I yelled up at the crowd ‘has anyone called EMS?’”

They hadn’t. The area they were in, just outside Christina Lake, didn’t have cell service.

“I did detect a faint pulse. I was pretty much yelling at him the entire time. ‘You need to stay with me’, ‘You need to breathe’, ‘I’m here’, ‘I’m here to help you’. I could see he had a wedding ring so I said ‘your family needs you’.”

Then he took a quick, jerking inhale.

“His eyes popped open. The water was rushing all around us and we’re only six inches above the water and he started to freak out a little bit. I had to throw myself on top of him to hold him down because I wasn’t sure if he had broken bones or internal injuries.”

She calmed him down, then he looked at her.

“He said ‘am I dead?’ and I said ‘no, you’re alive and you need to stay with me’.”

Once emergency crews showed up and took him away, she was left standing on the side of the road. She ended up continuing her commute, and it wasn’t until days later that authorities tried to contact her ultimately recommending her for a commanding officer’s commendation award.

Collyer has also received a Governor General’s Award and the St. John Ambulance Award for Lifesaving. But the biggest honour was getting the chance to spend time with Barbosa months later.

“He didn’t remember any of the interaction, but he said he remembered a female presence and someone holding his hand. He thought I was an angel, so he was quite surprised to find out it was a real person who had helped him.”

She had dinner with his family.

“The most shocking thing was when he opened the front door, fully fine and looking fantastic. I had dinner with his wife and two little girls and they looked at me like I was his guardian angel.”

Barbosa gave her a necklace with a guardian angel pendant on it. Reflecting on it, Collyer said helping is just in her nature.

“That’s just the kind of person I am. If I can help, I will help. I won’t even hesitate.”

 

Just Posted

Nelson Reflections win at synchro provincials

Nelson’s synchronized swimming team triumphed at the Jean Peters Provincial Championship

Here we go again: Mamma Mia! set to open at the Capitol Theatre

The ABBA-inspired musical runs Thursday to Sunday

LETTERS: The other side of the Women’s Centre story

From readers Vita Luthmers and Hannah Hadikin

Nelson holds the line on property taxes

No increase this year thanks to deal with RDCK on park funding

West Kootenay opinion sought on health care issues

Rural Evidence Review getting strong response to survey call-out

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Roadside device to weed out THC can’t detect impairment, B.C. lawyer says

‘This fact alone is likely to have serious implications for Canadians’ Charter Rights,’ lawyer Sarah Leamon warns

Most Read