Mother breaks neck on Kelowna's Gyro Beach rope swing

Beach day turns into tragedy

Rob Gibson

The May long weekend took a tragic turn for Kelowna's Stanford family when an idyllic day at the beach turned into a nightmare.

Rachel Stanford took what everyone expected would be normal ride on the rope swing at Gyro Beach.

"Initially, she came up screaming, and I thought it was because of the cold, like just shocked," said her husband, Ben Stanford, noting the whole incident was caught on video.

He says he rarely records anything on his phone, but when Rachel jumped up and went for a ride on the rope swing, he wanted to catch the moment. He did not realize he would be recording the instant his wife broke her neck falling in the water.

"I started running into the water. I was fully dressed and just ran into the water. I initially thought I was looking for a tooth and as I got closer, I saw blood coming from several areas and she was grabbing at her neck then I knew it was spinal trauma," says Stanford.

Fortunately, Ben has emergency training through his care aide job at Kelowna General Hospital. In fact, his quick actions may have prevented a more severe injury.

"If we hadn't been first aid trained, I can't say enough for being first aid trained, she might not be walking," said Ben.

Rachel is facing a long recovery and she will have to put her healthcare studies aside. Ben wants to stay by her side and help in her recovery.

"We started the fundraiser so that I can stay with her 24/7 and just do what she needs when she needs it. For me, it would mean everything if I got to stay home and do the care, and it'd be just a familiar face being able to provide it for Rachel," Stanford says.

Rachel is a mother of six and Ben says the ordeal has been very hard on everyone.

"She will require around-the-clock care for 10 weeks and I am able to provide it but it comes at the cost of my wages and overtime," Ben said, explaining that he is hopeful his wife will make a full recovery.

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