From left to right: Allan Tucker (rescuer), Ashley’s daughter, Ashley Petit, Laura Tucker (rescuer), Ashley Petit’s son. Photo courtesy of Ashley Petit

There was laughter and there were tears in North Battleford yesterday during a meeting that reunited a couple and a young teenage girl they saved from drowning 20 years ago on Canoe Lake.

Ashley Petit, 34, always wanted to say a proper thank you, this weekend she got the chance. Bright balloons tied to a chair in front of the home of Allan and Laura Tucker welcomed Ashley to the reunion.

She brought her two children and grandmother to share in the experience. It was something 20 years in the making that only came about after a Facebook appeal to find the couple. Ashley describes the experience as remarkable.

“It was amazing, totally amazing, it was kind of like a dream,” she said.

Ashley was 14 at the time of the tragedy. She lost her nine-year-old sister, two young cousins and her grandfather when their boat got swamped in high waves and sank. She was the only survivor.

The couple that rescued her first spotted debris in the water, then saw her struggling for her life. Ashley got a new perspective on how the tragedy must have impacted her life savers.

“You are boating home from fishing and heading back to your campground, and all of a sudden you see all of this debris and a kid in the water,” she said. “So that gave me a different appreciation just listening to their perspective.”

Ashley Petit and her family also met the family of the couple that rescued her, including one of their grandchildren.

Ashley has a master’s degree in education and teaches in Ile-a-la Crosse. She says the tragedy will always be with her, but she has learned how to deal with the grief.

She is also planning on writing a book about the accident, in fact she has been working on it for the past 10 years.

Allan and Laura Tucker still live in North Battleford, but have not been back to Canoe Lake since the tragedy that occurred on July 5, 1997.