B.C. Coroners Service is investigating after a 32-year-old woman drowned at Matheson Lake Tuesday evening. (Google Maps)

‘Clearly not breathing’: Bystanders recount giving CPR to woman who drowned in Matheson Lake

Greater Victoria resident jumped into ‘superhero mode’ when she saw the scene

Two Greater Victoria residents were the first on scene to provide CPR to a 32-year-old woman who drowned in Matheson Lake in Metchosin on Tuesday.

As James Dorsey and his wife Marsha Cole arrived at the lake around 6:30 p.m., they heard a commotion but didn’t think much of it. As they continued on, they saw what the cause of the commotion was – a woman was being pulled from the water.

Cole, a veterinary technician, went into “superhero mode,” as Dorsey describes, and took charge of the situation.

“It was bad, she was clearly not breathing and from my vantage point, I was more focused on making sure my wife was okay because she needs to take care of herself in that situation too,” says Dorsey, adding that Cole had described feeling the water in the woman’s lungs as she pressed down.

RELATED: 32-year-old woman drowns at Matheson Lake in Metchosin

Another bystander, who told Cole her name was Sasha, offered to help with CPR and the pair took turns, with one administering breaths while the other did compressions for at least 20 minutes before emergency crews arrived.

Dorsey says the first officer arrived at the lake about 15 minutes after the woman was pulled from the water, but he had been running to the area and needed to catch his breath.

“I think he saw that they were doing what needed to be done and I think he needed to catch his breath a little bit as anybody would … [but] it was at least 20 minutes, maybe even a bit longer [before paramedics arrived],” says Dorsey.

When the paramedics arrived on scene, Dorsey and Cole were able to take a step back.

READ ALSO: Brave 7-year-old boy rescues older child from drowning in Shuswap Lake

“When it was over, my wife looked like she got back from a massacre or something like her face was just covered in blood and foam and whatever else,” says Dorsey, adding that Cole has made arrangements to get a COVID-19 test.

Dorsey says he was a bit hesitant to return to the lake the day after but went because of an ask from a family friend. For Cole, Dorsey says it will likely take a bit longer before she returns even though the lake is only a few minutes from their home and where they swim daily in the summer.

“I’ve known for quite a while that she’s a superstar, but to actually see her like she just – as soon as she saw it was happening, basically pushed everybody else aside and just took charge,” says Dorsey. “It was amazing.”

Metchosin Fire Rescue and BC Ambulance provided advanced life support and transported the woman to hospital in critical condition. B.C. Coroners Service confirmed the woman later died, adding that it was in the early stages of an investigation but would not comment further.

The woman’s name has not been publicly released at this time.

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