Kelowna’s Floating Bridge
Most of you who remember the Floating Bridge, remember that a section of it had a lift span to allow boats to go underneath to the other side of the lake. This was an ingenious idea but a pain in the butt to those people left sitting on the bridge waiting for the lift to come down so we could carry on.
One Friday afternoon when I was working in Westbank at the Credit Union, I had to get to our Head Office before 4 pm as I had the day’s work and a large amount of cash to be deposited as our safe was not very trustworthy. I left our office at 2:30 figuring I had plenty of time to get there.
I could see from a distance that the Fintry Queen was just about at the bridge and I cursed out loud because I knew I would be sitting on the bridge waiting for the lift to go up and then down after the Fintry passed beneath.
I was about ten cars back when the lift started to go up and out of nowhere a black sedan went flying past us through the barrier and went right off the bridge between the lift and the deck..a space of about ten feet.
Several of us turned our cars off and ran towards the open end of the lift. The man high above us that operated the lift shouted at us to be careful and could we see the car? Sure enough, nose down and slowly sinking was the black sedan with at least two people inside.
In those days there were no cell phones so someone on the Kelowna side ran back to the hotel on the corner of Harvey and Abbott and phoned for the RCMP and for an ambulance while two men on shore jumped in the water and starting swimming for the sinking car.
I am sure that no one wants to be a witness to an accident much less one as horrific as the one we witnessed. Fortunately the two men in the car managed to break a window just as the two men were coming to rescue them. They were cut and bruised and gasping for air but were alive.
In the meantime I had no way of contacting my head office to let them know what had happened, nor could I turn around and go back as traffic was backed up for miles. Here I was with thousands of dollars in a canvas bag and all our receipts for the day. I was a little nervous to say the least.
Those of us close enough to the lift were interviewed by RCMP and once that was done, the span was lowered and we were able to move forward. By the time I got to the Head Office everyone knew what happened as it was on the news on the radio almost right away. I handed over my receipts and cash to the Branch Manager and he told me to go home..I earned an early day.
I watched the news that night. CHBC had a cameraman on sight almost immediately and covered the story. The driver of the car was eventually charged with impaired driving and a few other charges stemming not heeding the barrier. After this incident, I always approached that area a little slower than I usually did. It was an incident that stayed in my memory.