Seeking ‘Air Canada angel’: Man seeks airline employee he says saved his life

Click to play video: 'Search for Air Canada employee who saved a life'
Search for Air Canada employee who saved a life
An American man who was sent to Kelowna for work earlier this year is in desperate search of an Air Canada employee at YLW, who he claims helped save his life. The man suffered a serious heart attack less than a day after landing back home, but had it not been for the diligent work of the employee, he doesn't believe he'd be alive to tell his story. Jayden Wasney reports. – Nov 29, 2023

If it weren’t for the thoughtful wrangling and planning of an “Air Canada angel,” a U.S. man travelling home last summer from Kelowna may have never seen his family again.

Now, months after Gerry Wagner suffered a heart attack that he says could have been fatal, he’s looking for the woman who went the extra mile to return him home.

Wagner was set to fly home to Philadelphia from Kelowna early on June 3, but when he arrived at the airport, flights were cancelled due to what was described to him as an IT crash a day earlier.

As he tried to assess his next moves and the dim prospects of making it home at the time he’d planned, the Air Canada employee working the desk took charge and created a whole new itinerary with new flights, and new connecting cities.

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“She got me back to Philadelphia at the same time that my original itinerary would have gotten me back, and this is significant,” Wagner told Global News.

It was significant because the following morning, Wagner suffered a massive heart attack.

“(There was a) 99 per cent blockage in the left hand side of my heart, and if she had not gotten me back to Philly when she did, I would have died on a plane or in a hotel room,” he said. “There’s just no question about it.”

Click to play video: 'Canada’s largest airlines rank last in North America for on-time arrivals: report'
Canada’s largest airlines rank last in North America for on-time arrivals: report

Wagner hopes to find who he calls his “Air Canada angel,” and thank her for going above and beyond and saving his life.

“I’m beginning to wonder if she’s even real, or if this was just an angel sent to me that morning, but hopefully with this we’ll be able to find her, and I just want to thank her,” he said. “I’m sure she thinks all she did was her job, but she did more than her job.”

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Kelowna International Airport CEO Sam Samaddar said he is touched by Wagner’s story, adding he isn’t surprised that the Air Canada employee did what she did to get Wagner home as quickly as possible.

“It warms my heart, you know we work as one campus, that’s what we preach at the airport, and we’re all here to support each other and make sure that our customers and our guests that are using our facility are well taken care of,” Samaddar said.

Wagner is well taken care of, by himself now, too.

“It’s bizarre, but a heart attack might have been the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said. “I’m exercising, walking, and just appreciating life a lot more than I ever did before quite frankly.”

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