Rescuers clear the scene after working together to free a man and two children from a car, prior to emergency crews’ efforts. (Contributed photo)

LETTERS: Proud of citizens’ rescue efforts

Editor: Re: Family pulled from ditch , Oct. 4.

Editor:

Re: Family pulled from ditch, Oct. 4.

Your article regarding a family whose car flipped in the ditch along King George Boulevard stated: “the family of four was trapped in their grey Honda CRV until emergency crews arrived.”

Not true. This unfortunate family was saved not by emergency crews, but by citizens who stopped their cars and immediately and unselfishly jumped into cold chest high muddy water.

I was cycling King George and came upon the scene within minutes of the car entering the ditch. Five cars had already stopped, and people had scrambled down the bank and jumped into the ditch, trying to free the occupants of the car. We all knew that people were trapped in the upside-down, nearly fully submerged vehicle, and they might be drowning right in front of us.

People were frantic, screaming for tools to help break the windows or pry open doors. It was a scene of sheer panic, but was an amazing example of human nature at its best, and I must say I was very proud of my fellow human beings.

Small tools were found – a tire iron by one person and a lady came forward with a window breaker/seatbelt cutter. One brave rescuer clambered over the underside of the car and, reaching down, was able to break a submerged window. He and others started to pull the survivors out.

The fire department did arrive and helped pull the final occupant out of the car, but the rescue was performed by citizens, not emergency crews.

In fact, the response of the fire department was quite the opposite of the citizens. They appeared to be in no big hurry; they first removed a ladder from their truck to create a bridge to the vehicle, it seemed they didn’t want to jump into the water.

People were screaming at them to provide a pry bar, but not until one fireman calmly walked to the scene, did he yell back for others to get a pry bar. Too late, the citizens had already broken the window and were pulling out the survivors.

The firemen did commence CPR on the last and most injured individual to be pulled out of the car. (Editor’s note: the driver, ultimately, did not survive.)

Job done, the citizen rescuers scrambled back up the bank, shivering and soaking wet, watching the firemen perform CPR, but within seconds the firemen quickly told them to “clear the scene.”

Probably proper protocol, but at the time it seemed pretty harsh treatment of those unselfish citizens who had just put saving fellow humans ahead of their own safety on a sunny afternoon.

Bob Campbell, Surrey