Heroics in Hawaiian raging river recognised
Wagin’s Jen Bannerman has been hailed a hero after saving the lives of a family swept into a river in Hawaii.
Jen Bannerman’s mother said she was often scared by her daughter’s superhero complex, so it came as no surprise when she witnessed her risking her life four times to help a family across a raging river in Hawaii.
Jen Bannerman, who works as a pool manager in Wagin was travelling with her mother in Maui when they found a stranded family at Twin Falls river.
“When I first got there the father was stuck in the middle of the river, struggling to go back to the other side,” Ms Bannerman said.
“They were trapped at the wrong side of the river and there was nowhere else for them to go.”
The Californian family had crossed the river in the morning when it was only ankle-deep, but when they came back the river was close to 2m deep. The rain had filled the river and the stream was moving rapidly.
“Swimming was impossible — I’m a strong swimmer but it was absolutely impossible,” Ms Bannerman said.
A park officer then came to help the family but he was unable to cross the river because of the heavy stream.
He then provided Ms Bannerman with a rope which she threw to the other side of the river to the family, who then tied it around a tree.
That’s when Ms Bannerman crossed the river for the first time, with the rope as an aid to check an alternative way for the mother and her two sons and daughters to cross to the other side.
When she realised the river was their only way out, Ms Bannerman decided to carry the two sons and daughter back to shore on separate trips.
However during her fourth trip the river had risen close to 3m deep and she almost lost grip of the rope.
“During the last cross I thought I was going to go down the waterfalls, I can feel the son almost slipping from my back.
“I was exhausted by the time I got the three kids over, I couldn’t go back to get the mother,” Ms Bannerman said.
However with careful instructions from Ms Bannerman, the mother managed to cross the river safely on her own.
It took Ms Bannerman almost an hour to get the family back to shore, but what frustrated her most during this time was the amount of onlookers who were standing around taking pictures, instead of offering any kind of help.
“It just bothers me the amount of people that were snapping pictures rather than helping, they could have helped the kids when they got across but they didn’t,” she said.
“I guess that’s just the kind of world we live in now.”
Ms Bannerman has been living in the Great Southern area for the past decade and has lived in Wagin for the past four years.
She also worked at Katanning pool when she first moved to Australia from Canada and often volunteered as a lifeguard.
“My Mum said I’ve always got a superhero complex. I’ve done silly things like that before just to help someone. I scared my mum a lot,” she said.
Jen Bannerman at the Wagin swimming pool.