Watch above: A young Canadian family is happy to be safe and sound, after a vacation in Barbados almost turned tragic. Vassy Kapelos reports.
An Ontario family’s idyllic vacation in the tropics might have ended in tragedy were it not for a mix of luck and knowing how to keep calm in a crisis.
Jonathan and Heather Hubble, along with their 11-month-old daughter, travelled to Barbados in early March.
It was a trip Jonathan had made a number of times before, as his grandmother hails from the Caribbean island nation and his family has been visiting relatives there for years.
The vacation started off like any trip south would: sightseeing, kayaking and lounging at the beach.
After a day-long excursion on Mar. 12, the Hubbles returned to the apartment they were staying at to prepare dinner for a friend.
As Jonathan was upstairs getting food ready in another relative’s unit, Heather saw a face peer around the corner from their entryway.
“At first I thought it was our friend. I think I even said his name. But then I noticed he was kind of masked,” she explained.
The man disappeared behind the wall briefly, but when he reappeared Heather noticed he was carrying a gun.
He was followed by three other men, one of whom was carrying what looked like a machete.
She told them she was alone and that her husband had gone out for a walk.
Heather offered the men the cash she had in her purse – between $200 to $300 – in an attempt to get rid of them.
Her plan appeared to have worked – the men began to leave – until seconds later, when she heard a gunshot.
Jonathan, making his way downstairs from the other apartment and unaware of what was happening, said he was about 20 feet away from the door to his apartment when he saw one of the men exiting.
He shouted at the man and ran towards him, pelting him with the eggs he had in his hands.
As the two men struggled, another man armed with a gun came around the corner and shot Jonathan in the chest. All four intruders fled the scene as Jonathan shouted for help.
Heather was still inside with their daughter, but rushed to his side as other family members came to help.
“When I heard the shot … in my head I just hoped it was some kind of warning shot,” Heather said. “I knew in the back of my mind that the only person who would be coming down the stairs was Jonathan. I just hoped it wasn’t him.”
“The bullet had penetrated my diaphragm, but luckily missed my lungs. I was able to breathe, but with pain and difficulty,” Jonathan said.
Heather, with the help of Jonathan’s father, tried to do what first aid she could and keep he husband comfortable while his mother called for an ambulance.
It took half an hour for police to reach the eastern side of the island, where the Hubbles were staying, and even longer for an ambulance.
Jonathan underwent emergency surgery to repair the damage caused by the bullet. But despite travelling from his chest towards his lower spine, the bullet missed major organs such as his heart and stomach.
He was hospitalized for the next eight days. His recovery prolonged their time in Barbados and they arrived back in Canada with their daughter on April 1.
The four men were arrested within days and charged with “aggravated burglary and serious bodily harm,” Jonathan said.
The Hubbles found out some the men had been involved in a similar crime in the same area.
Jonathan’s family had been staying at the same place for years, but this is the first robbery in the area any of them were aware of.
“We were just so thankful that everything went as well as it could,” Heather said.
Heather and Jonathan are in the Canadian Forces, stationed at CFB Petawawa. They’ve both completed tours of duty in Afghanistan.
Jonathan said a “lifetime of training” helped keep them composed during such a terrible ordeal.
“I think that our experiences in training in the military … contributed to being able to deal with the situation that you’re facing, instead of reacting more irrationally.”
With files from Vassy Kapelos