Ten-year-old Krymzen and her sister Samara, 9, were playing with friends at Rundle Park’s toboggan chutes in Edmonton, Saskatchewan last week when the young girls fell into the nearby North Saskatchewan River.
“From what I was told was one of the toboggans came off the snowbank and onto the ice and they were trying to come back and the ice broke,” explains the girls’ father, Cory Sunshine. “I don’t know what they were doing down by the river.”
Krymzen and Samara struggled in the freezing glacier-fed water, desperately trying to make it to the banks and to safety.
Meanwhile, Adam Shaw was hiking near the river with his wife, his two children and their 8-year-old Siberian Husky–Labrador Retriever mix, Rocky. Suddenly, they heard screaming coming from the icy water beneath the Rundle Park footbridge.
“I looked down to see one young girl floating in the river and her sister trying to pull her out,” Shaw tells CBC News.
While his wife called 9-1-1, Shaw ran to the girls’ aid, and loyal Rocky followed. As Shaw and Rocky reached the riverbank, both Krymzen and Samara had fallen in. Krymzen managed to hold on near the shore, and Shaw was able to pull her out, but little Samara was caught up in the current, floating helplessly down the river.
“She was bobbing in and out and we could barely see her,” says Shaw. He and Rocky took off after her, even running across dangerous ice floes to try and reach the struggling girl.
By the time the pair of man and dog reached Samara, her arms and legs had gone completely numb from the cold and Shaw knew the girl would not be able to swim on her own. He and Rocky laid low across the fragile ice as Shaw tried throwing Rocky’s leash to Samara, but she had drifted too far to reach it.
Suddenly, the ice beneath them gave way, Shaw and Rocky sliding into the arctic river. Shaw lifted Rocky to safety on a stronger sheet of ice and managed to pull himself out with Rocky’s leash. Poor Samara had drifted even further down river.
That’s when Rocky jumped into action — literally. The courageous Husky-Lab mix dove back into the frigid waters and took off after the little girl. Shaw looked on as Rocky got close enough for Samara to finally grab hold of his leash, and the brave dog quickly swam himself and Samara back to shore. Shaw was able to carefully pull Samara and Rocky from the cold waters just as emergency crews arrived at the scene.
Samara, who developed hypothermia during her ordeal, joined her sister Krymzen at the University of Alberta Hospital that evening. The girls spent the night under observation but were released the following morning. A week later, their father says his daughters are doing just fine — and all because of one kind passerby and one very brave dog.
Adam Shaw says he wasn’t surprised Rocky put his own life on the line to save Samara.
“He’s a terrific dog,” Shaw says. “He’s very adventurous, always in and out of the water. I knew he could jump in the water and swim back no problem.”
For their bravery in saving the lives of Krymzen and Samara, Shaw and Rocky were honored by the Edmonton Oil Kings hockey team last Friday evening. And in an unexpected surprise, Krymzen and Samara were also in attendance, happy to reunite with the man and dog who risked everything to save them.
Shaw tells Global News he is thrilled to see the girls doing well. The humble man admits he had to fight back tears during the touching reunion.
“Last time I saw them it was so scary and, you know, they were cold and scared,” says Shaw. “So it’s just good to see them healthy and walking around.”
And as for Krymzen and Samara, they are beyond grateful to Adam Shaw and Rocky.
“My whole class made him cards,” Samara explains. “My mom bought him an angel…and we got Rocky treats.”