Robert Barron column: There are heroes among us

Robert Barron column: There are heroes among us

The five men who I saw bundled up and sped away in ambulances tried their best to save him

The RCMP officers from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment who worked together to rescue a woman from drowning in 2017 deserve the recognition they received.

Five officers received Awards of Valour, the highest award that police officers are able to attain, at a ceremony in Victoria on Nov. 21 for their successful efforts to rescue the woman trapped in an unstable vehicle that was in danger of sliding into the Cowichan River.

These officers work and train hard to ensure they are the best they can be when facing difficult situations that require keeping a cool head, using skills acquired and being unafraid to take necessary risks.

Many call that bravery, and hats off to these officers for saving that women’s life.

I’ve seen similar instances of heroism in my time as a news reporter.

One such incident happened one cold winter’s day about 10 years ago when I was working with the Nanaimo Daily News.

A report came into the newsroom of a car that had careened over the embankment next to the Pearson Bridge in downtown Nanaimo and had ended up in the middle of the Millstone River.

By the time I arrived, police, fire truck and ambulance crews were there and I could see they were wrapping several men in blankets and rushing them away to the hospital, and I wondered just how many people were in the car.

It turns out there was only one; an elderly man who either had a medical issue, or slid off the iced up road while attempting to cross the bridge.

The five men who I saw bundled up and sped away in ambulances tried their best to save him, but had failed.

The story I got was that a number of motorists saw the car take the plunge down the embankment and ran down the hill to help.

Apparently, the car floated in the water for a few minutes and the elderly driver was screaming for help before the car completely sank in the deep river.

The first guy down the hill dove into the freezing water fully clothed, swam to the car and began trying to break the car window.

Some of the other men had arrived and, seeing that the first guy was having trouble freeing the man from the car, they collected rocks and also jumped fully clothed into the water and made their way to the car.

By this time, the car had slid under the water and then the would-be rescuers began diving after it.

By the time emergency personnel arrived, the men had been in the water for some time, but refused orders from the rescue crews to swim back to shore and continued their efforts.

They literally had to be dragged from the water before they collapsed from exposure and exhaustion, and all of them had to be rushed to the hospital themselves.

These men, who were completely unknown to each other until that day, put their own lives at severe risk and worked together in a frantic, but unsuccessful, effort to save the elderly gentleman in the car, who they also didn’t know.

Probably unknown even to themselves that morning, the men were heroes, and they were recognized with medals from search and rescue groups a few months later.

I just hope there’s people around like that the next time I drive off a cliff.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Holly the stuffed Rottweiler has been missing from the front of Lucky Dog U-Bath since Feb. 24. (Submitted photo)
Holly the stuffed Rottweiler is missing from Duncan shop

Toy dog missing from front of Lucky Dog U-Bath since Feb.24

Martha Jane McHardy displays her knitwear in one of the windows at Imagine That! in Duncan this month. (Submitted)
Arts and Entertainment column: Lots to see in Duncan in March

Funding success, painters show, folk art, tell your COVID story

The Kinsol Trestle in Shawnigan Lake is a sight to behold. Funding for the expansion of the Shawnigan Museum celebrates its 100th anniversary. (Citizen file)
Shawnigan Museum expansion gets $480,000

Funds from Government of Canada Legacy Fund - Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
Cowichan Valley mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

Clockwise from top left: Malahat First Nation Chief George Harry and councillors Steve Henry and Cindy Harry address community members in a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Screenshot)
Malahat Nation confirms first two cases of COVID-19

Community has been under stay-at-home order since Jan. 7

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read