Teenager Chantel Asamoah and her family had a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday. Just over three months she was given up for dead after spending nearly 10 minutes under water at Woodbine Beach.
The Grade 11 student has made a miraculous recovery and is back in school at Sir John A. Macdonald Collegiate Institute.
Sgt. Andria Cowan was the first emergency responder on the scene and she assumed the role of search manager until lifeguards took over and located Asamoah at the bottom of the beach. Officers also provided critical support to the traumatized family.
The Asamoah family recently went to 55 Division to show their appreciation to Cowan and her team.
“This is a miracle and the whole outcome is incredible and unbelievable,” said George Asamoah, the high school student’s elder brother. “There were some doctors who were almost certain that she would not make it and we were even told that if she survived, she would never be the same. To see my little sister make a full recovery is one of the greatest things I am sure I will ever experience. She has defied all odds.”
The youngest of three children who turned 16 in hospital in August was standing in knee-deep water on the beach when she was swept away by a huge wave.
George Asamoah recalled the phone call of the bad news he received from Cowan.
“It’s the kind of call I would not wish on any family,” he said. “I almost drove off the road in the mad rush to get to East York General Hospital, believing that I had lost my beloved sister.”
Fighting back tears, family matriarch Vida Asamoah thanked the officers while George joined younger brother Jarvis in lauding the commitment and teamwork displayed by the platoon members that day.
“To know that the Toronto police played a major role is something that our family will never forget,” said Ghanaian-born George Asamoah. “Prior to my sister’s accident, my perception of the police was that they had power and authority which they abused sometimes. Now, I see police in a different light as caring, sensitive and sympathetic. That’s what is forever etched in mind.”
The family presented Cowan with a photo of Chantel and a trophy that will take pride of place in the station and remind officers of a job well done.
“In my 21 years of policing, I have never encountered anything like this,” said Cowan. “We have really bonded with the family. It was really important for many of the officers there that day on the beat to stay connected with them.”
Unconscious for four days, Asamoah spent six weeks at The Hospital for Sick Children before being transferred to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital where she remained for another seven weeks before being released last September 5. The honour roll student, who averaged a school-high 90 per cent in Math in the last three semesters, was back in class the next day.
Prior to the accident, Asamoah aspired to be a pharmacist. She now intends to become a medical doctor because she wants to save lives.