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Sask. men who died saving two family members from icy lake recognized with Carnegie Medal


Two Saskatchewan men who dove into icy waters in a bid to save two young girls and a woman who fell through the ice of a frozen lake are being honoured posthumously.

On November 4, 2023, after witnessing their family members fall through the ice of Humboldt Lake, Joe and Chris Novecosky rushed in after them — an act of bravery that would ultimately cost them their lives.

"Joe was always courageous, even as a child. He would take risks that I, as a dad, thought were crazy, but now I see he was blessed with a lot of courage," said Andrew Novecosky, Joe’s father.

Along with Chris and Joe, seven-year-old Ava Novecosky also died that day after falling into the frigid Humboldt Lake, located about 123 kilometres east of Saskatoon.

The shore of Humboldt Lake. (Keenan Sorokan / CTV News)

Ava was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, and the bodies of Chris and Joe were recovered later by an RCMP dive team. But thanks to the efforts of the two men and first responders, two of the five who ended up in the water that day were saved.

Less than a year later, the pair are being recognized with a Carnegie Medal for their bravery, one of the highest civilian honors in North America.

"It feels really good. We're really glad that their heroism is being showcased and that the story is being told accurately as well,” said Kristen Novecosky, Chris’ wife.

“It doesn't make the grief any easier. It doesn't bring them back, of course, but it is something that we're looking at as a good thing, and we are very glad they are being recognized.”

For the Novecosky family, the tragedy is still fresh, but the award gives them something to be proud of.

"For the most part, everybody's kind of picked up and started walking forward. We'll never get over this, but we'll get through it, is our motto," said Andrew.

The Novecosky family says that this is just who Chris and Joe were — their heroism was a surprise to no one. 

-With files from Rory MacLean Top Stories


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