The provincial government marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Sheilah Sweatman, a volunteer with Nelson Search and Rescue, on Wednesday.
She tragically lost her life during a search-and-recovery call on the Goat River near Creston 10 years ago on June 29, 2011.
“Her passing was the first line-of-duty death of a ground search-and-rescue volunteer in British Columbia, and I would like to pass along my thoughts to her family, friends and colleagues who are remembering her on this day,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in an issued statement.
“Though 10 years have passed, the impact of Sheilah’s work remains in the lives of all those she assisted. For her colleagues in the search-and-rescue community, the memory of her dedication and her sacrifice lives on.”
According to her memorial page on BC Search and Rescue Association, Sweatman was a powerful force with a generous heart. She loved the outdoors and was an avid snowboarder, mountain biker, rafter, hiker, and was training for her first triathlon.
Within a couple years of joining Nelson Search and Rescue, Sweatman became a highly accomplished and committed member and was on every speciality team.
In addition to search and rescue on the ground, Sweatman trained hard as a rope team member, boat team member, swiftwater rescue technician, team leader, first-aid responder, and organized avalanche response team member.
The memorial page described Sweatman’s skills as only matched by her “determination, strength, ferocious spirit, kindness, and the best bear hugs imaginable.”
“I want to take a moment to honour Sheilah, who was willing to put herself at risk as a search-and-rescue volunteer to save the lives of strangers,” said Farnworth.
“Sheilah volunteered her time to help those whose lives were in danger and made the ultimate sacrifice. That sacrifice is a stark reminder of the risks our search-and-rescue volunteers face every day. Her dedication serves as an inspiration to all of us, and her commitment to B.C.’s search-and-rescue community leaves us all forever in her debt.”
She continues to be remembered with a landscaped garden area in Nelson around Sheilah’s Monument, which is a cairn-inspired sculpture assembled from rocks brought by search-and-rescue teams from across the province and beyond.