In a brave display of courage and love, 74-year-old Everett McGowin dove into the swift, cold waters of the Fraser River near Vancouver, Canada, in an effort to save his wife when she fell into the Fraser River behind their residential house boat Sunday evening, according to Delta police.
The Providence reports that neighbors were able to pull the woman out of the current after she grabbed hold of a structure around the residential floating homes, but her husband was tragically lost to the river.
Don Bruchet, past president of the Floating Home Association Pacific, and other neighbors explained that because of the spring freshet, the Fraser River currently has a strong current, a high water level, and very cold temperatures.
“It’s hard to say what exactly happened to him, but obviously something that he was not expecting,” Bruchet said. “This is really a shock to have him go this way.”
The docks are equipped with rescue equipment and ladders and the residents take care around the river. According to CBC News, neighbor George Rust was urged out of bed Sunday night when he became aware of "wrong sounds around the water." He found Mrs. McGowin struggling in the river and they were able to pull her out before Rust went searching for her husband in a borrowed dinghy, with no luck.
Having known the older couple for 15 years, Rust says the wife recently had a knee replacement and reported to CBC News, “I thought maybe that made her unstable and she fell because of it. And I know he would have gone right away into the water."
The Providence adds that Bruchet, who lives downriver from the McGowins, considers McGowin as “one of the most gracious, polite directors on our board.”
Authorities were able to recover McGowin’s body near a ferry terminal south of Vancouver, Canada, on Monday so the dedicated husband and dear friend can have a proper burial.
Of the community of 150 float homeowners in west Ladner, Bruchet said it is close-knit and everyone looks out for each other, as evidenced by those who came to the McGowin’s aid as soon as they were aware of trouble.
“We’re all on the lookout,” Bruchet says. He adds that McGowin was “a very, very hard worker in his business,” a Western wear shop called the OK Boot Corral, and that “his wife Linda is a passionate gardener. They have a beautiful home and lifestyle.”
Katherine Hammond, the current association president, describes the McGowins as welcoming, social, and important members of their water community. She adds that the McGowins have enjoyed living on the river in such “an incredibly beautiful and wild place.”
Linda McGowin is luckily in stable condition at the hospital. Her husband, Everett, is remembered by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him well as “gracious and hard-working,” clearly a beautiful and poignant example of a good dockmate and a good man. If anyone showed a clear attitude of love and sacrifice we all would be better to emulate, it's Everett McGowin. Our thoughts and prayers go with the McGowin family and their friends and neighbors.
Photos credited to The Providence