Crowds had gathered at the riverbank fairgrounds for the Lions Club music festival in Guyon, Quebec. The hot July, 1993 sun made the sandy beach an attraction too inviting to miss. Lonnie Collier, 15, Tera Mayhew, 14, and Scott Smith, 12, decided to walk 100 meters to where the Guyon River flowed into the Ottawa River. The warm shallow waters of the beach led to a sudden drop-off into the very cold current of the Ottawa River. The boys played the game of jumping into the cold current and experiencing the exhileration of swimming back into the warm water. This excitement turned into panic when the two boys jumped too far to battle the current back to shore. They were swept away.
Screams drew the attention of Dwight McMillan who ran over and dove into the current to rescue Scott. With great difficulty he managed to haul him back to safety. By then Lonnie was 60 meters away struggling to stay afloat. Though already exhausted, Dwight headed out for a second rescue attempt.
Upon reaching Lonnie the boy clutched at him in frenzied panic, clawing at Dwight and nearly causing the drowning of both of them. Repeated attempts to persuade Lonnie to relax so that he could be rescued failed. He sank out of sight. Darlene McMillan despaired when she saw Dwight disappear too. Meanwhile 2 men in a small boat were alerted to the trouble. When Dwight emerged with a limp Lonnie and no strength left the two men pulled alongside and brought them to shore. According to the March, 1996 report in Reader’ Digest, the two men said not a word as they brought them to shore. While the onlookers were pulling Dwight and Lonnie onto the beach, heaving and vomiting, the two men disappeared. Repeated efforts to locate them later failed. In Dec., 1994 Dwight was awarded the Governor Generals Medal of Bravery. In Feb., 1995 he received the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. But the two men who pulled Lonnie and Dwight out of the water and then disappeared are unheralded heroes of another kind.
The three kids learned a lesson and perhaps someone will keep this story in mind as outdoor swimming weather approaches.