From an off-duty Edmonton cop using his quick instincts to disarm man with a loaded rifle to a Red Deer father getting a school bus with an impaired driver to come to a halt, there was no shortage of Albertans who jumped into action in various situations requiring bravery in 2016-17 and a number of them were honoured in Edmonton on Friday.
Alberta’s Lt.-Gov. Lois E. Mitchell was joined by Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht and other dignitaries at the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Headquarters on Friday afternoon to hand out the Royal Canadian Humane Association Bravery Awards.
The Royal Canadian Humane Association was established in Canada by Queen Victoria in 1894 to honour people who “through their alertness, skill and concern, bring about the saving of life, especially where those actions lie outside the ordinary duties of the person involved,” according to an EPS news release.
The accolades are separated into different categories:
· Bravery Medals are given to people who have shown “their willingness to sacrifice themselves to save others.”
· Gold Medals are mostly only given out for “deeds of bravery at the cost of the hero’s life.”
· Silver or Bronze Medals are given to people who have “shown extraordinary disregard for personal safety in saving or attempting to save a life.”
· Honourary Testimonial Certificates are given out for rescue attempts where the “risk is not as great.”
Below is a look at some of the people who were honoured at Friday’s ceremony.
Trying to save a woman from a burning vehicle
Neal Seifeddine was given a Silver Medal for Bravery, John Wajaras was given a Bronze Medal for Bravery and Ryan Brewster and Benjamin Sacks were given Honorary Testimonial Certificates for their efforts to try and save a woman from a burning SUV in Edmonton. On Oct. 24, 2016, a woman was driving her SUV when it was hit by a speeding car in the area of 97 Street and 160 Avenue. Both vehicles went into the ditch, hers rolled and caught fire. Seifeddine ran to her SUV and pulled the broken windshield away to try and get her out but she was pinned. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put the blaze out. Wajaras then arrived on the scene and tried to get the woman out as well. Brewster and Sacks also stopped to help and tried to use fire extinguishers to put out the fire. Despite their efforts, the woman, 50-year-old Joann Christou, died.
Watch below: On May 17, 2017, Sarah Kraus filed this report about some Edmontonians who were recognized for their heroic attempts to save the life of a woman trapped in a burning vehicle.
Disarming a gunman
Ziad Chehade was given a Silver Medal for Bravery and Cooper Davies was given a Bronze Medal for Bravery for their roles in helping to disarm a gunman in Calgary. On Jan. 10, 2016, a man got out of a car in front of TEN Nightclub and started firing shots into the bar. A man inside the club was injured so Chehade and Davies – both bouncers at the club – rushed into action. Chehade tried to disarm the gunman and the gun went off and a bullet went through his jacket.Still, he was able to disarm the man and Davies rushed in to help. They held the man on the ground until police arrived.
Watch: Ordinary citizens from across Alberta are being recognized for taking extraordinary action. The group includes two Calgary men, honoured for disarming a gunman at a popular nightclub. Bindu Suri has more.
Watch below: In January 2016, Tracy Nagai filed this report about a brazen shooting in Calgary. One person was shot, while bullets whizzed by other unsuspecting patrons. Two of the club’s bouncers were being called heroes after what happened.
Saving a man from an oncoming train
Christopher Sampson was given a Bronze Medal for Bravery when he risked his life to save a man from getting run over by an LRT train in Edmonton. On April 7, 2017, two men were arguing in the Churchill LRT station when one was knocked out by a punch. He fell onto the tracks just as the warning bell rang to signal a train was coming. Sampson saw what happened as he was waiting for a train and jumped on the tracks to help. He couldn’t lift the man off the tracks him self, so another witness, who’s identity remains unknown, jumped down to help lift the unconscious man to safety. Sampson was not able to climb back up onto the platform before the train arrived but the train was able to stop in time.
Watch below: On April 8, 2017, Julia Wong filed this report about an Edmonton student who was on his way to school when he saw a man fall onto the LRT tracks. He then jumped into the path of an oncoming train to help.
Helping an injured swimmer
Jessica de Kluyver and Joseph Brown were given the Bronze Medal for Bravery and MacKenzie McDonald was given an Honorary Testimonial Certificate for helping a seriously injured swimmer at Horseshoe Lake on June 29, 2016. A group of graduating students decided to go cliffjumping at Horseshoe Lake in Jasper National Park. The cliff is about 15 metres above a deep part of the lake. When one of the students jumped, she landed badly in the water and broke both of her legs, hips and tailbone. She was also bleeding badly. de Kluyver jumped into the water and swam out to help her injured friend. She had trouble pulling the victim so she brought her to a nearby rock ledge. Then Brown, who also saw what happened, swam out to help. The two then pulled the girl across the lake to shore where emergency crews happened to be for a training exercise. McDonald helped with first aid while they waited for a STARS Air Ambulance helicopter to airlift the girl to hospital in Edmonton.
Rescuing people from a fire
Kaden Clouston and Mackie Martineau were given the Bronze Medal for Bravery for rescuing people from a fire in Calgary on March 25, 2017. Martineau was working across the street from a strip mall he saw go up in flames and grabbed a fire extinguisher and raced into the burning building to try and put it out. When he realized he wouldn’t be able to, he banged on doors to warn people to get out. Kaden Clouston joined Martineau to help.
Watch below: On March 25, 2017, Carolyn Kury de Castillo filed this report about several people being called heroes by the fire department for their daring actions when a blaze broke out in Calgary.
Stopping an impaired school bus driver
Kurt Stenburg was given an Honorary Testimonial Certificate for helping to stop a school bus being driven by an impaired woman in Red Deer. On June 5, 2017, Stenburg heard a crash while he was getting his three-year-old daughter out of the car outside his house. He saw a school bus drive over the sidewalk and hit a tree before knocking over a speed limit sign. Stenburg noticed the bus was full of kids and ran to the street to try and stop it but when it passed by him, he jumped in his car with his daughter and chased after it. When he caught up to the bus, he pulled in front of it to stop it. He got on the bus and turned off the bus and helped the driver off as she appeared to be drowsy and slow to respond. Stenburg’s wife also came to the bus and helped comfort the kids on the bus until emergency crews arrived.
Watch below: In June 2017, Tony Tighe filed this report about a 42-year-old woman facing impaired and dangerous driving charges after the school bus she was driving hit a tree and traffic sign.
Disarming a man with a loaded rifle
EPS Const. Taylor Lockert was given the Honorary Testimonial Certificate for his quick thinking to disarm a man with a loaded gun as he was off-duty and driving home.At about 3 a.m. on March 15, 2017, Lockert noticed a man standing at the side of a dark road and asked if he needed help. He thought the man spoke oddly when he replied and as the man turned around, Lockert noticed he was holding a rifle. The police officer quickly grabbed his flashlight and shined it in the man’s eyes so he could get his own gun out. He then disarmed the man, handcuffed him and called police for help. The rifle the man was carrying turned out to be loaded and another gun was found in his backpack.
Preventing a robbery
Lorena Barkwell and Gregory Szitowski received the Honorary Testimonial Certificate for chasing down a suspect in an attempted robbery at an Edmonton restaurant. On May 29, 2016, an elderly man was sitting at a VLT machine in a restaurant when a male grabbed him, threw him to the floor and tried to take his wallet. There was a struggle but the suspect fled without the wallet. Four witnesses chased after him and at one point the suspect started running through traffic so two witnesses stopped chasing him. Barkwell and Szitowski kept going though. Barkwell called 911 on her cellphone while Szitowski caught the suspect and held him until police got there.
Woman rescued from assault
Griffen Annett, Crystal Lambert and Nicola Scott-Federow were given Honorary Testimonial Certificates for their quick thinking when they rescued a woman being attacked in Edmonton on Aug. 5, 2016. Late at night, the three were playing Pokemon Go in a park when they heard a woman scream as she was attacked on a path along Saskatchewan Drive. The attacker grabbed her by the neck, pulled her into a wooded area and choked her until she blacked out. Annett, Lambert and Scott-Fedorow ran to the scene, at which point the attacker fled. They helped the woman out of the wooded area and comforted her until emergency services arrived. Annett also found evidence he believed the attacker left behind and gave it to police. Scott-Fedorow stayed with the woman in hospital and then took her home after she was treated.