Posted by: njrigg | July 3, 2011

SAR Volunteer Sheilah Sweatman Drowns During Recovery Mission in the Goat River in Canada

SAR Volunteer Sheilah Sweatman Drowns

During Recovery Mission in the Goat River in Canada

By Nancy J. Rigg

Sheilah Sweatman, 29, drowned July 29th, 2011

Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer, Sheilah Sweatman, 29, drowned Wednesday, June 29, 2011, during a recovery mission in the Goat River near Creston, B.C.  Sweatman’s body has been recovered.  The search for the remains of the initial victim, Lana Chipesia, 23, of Creston, has been suspended, due to the dangerous conditions in the river.

News reports indicate that her family understood Sheilah Sweatman’s sense of commitment to search and rescue, as well as recovery operations in water.   A coroner’s investigation is underway.

Speaking on behalf of families who have had loved ones missing in open water, or whose loved ones are currently missing, none of us would ever want a rescuer to die in pursuit of a recovery operation.  The potential danger must not serve as an automatic excuse for doing nothing, however.  Finding and recovering the physical remains of a missing loved one is often a vital step in the grief recovery process for surviving family members.  There must be a sensible, safe, and compassionate balance in this decision making process.

We offer sincere condolences to Sheila Sweatman’s family, friends, and fellow SAR specialists, including swiftwater rescue team members.  You are all in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

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  1. I am sorry to hear about her loss. Rescuers are always at risk and she paid the ultimate price for a good cause. My condolences to her family and her team mates.

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