Douro-Dummer man receives Carnegie medal for heroism on Otonabee River

Click to play video: '17-year-old from Douro-Dummer receives Carnegie medal for saving man from Otonabee River'
17-year-old from Douro-Dummer receives Carnegie medal for saving man from Otonabee River
WATCH: Ryan McIlwain is one of three Canadians to receive the Carnegie medal this year – Aug 6, 2019

Last July, Global News reported the story of a Douro-Dummer man who jumped into the Otonabee River to pull a man out of the water, an act that captured the attention of people all across Canada.

About a year later, the 17-year old, Ryan McIlwain, was recognized with a prestigious award for his selfless act of heroism.

“Every day I hear about it from everyone at school, people at work — everyone knows about it,” said McIlwain.

McIlwain was on his lunch break from Foodland in Lakefield when he heard someone frantically calling for help from the water near the shore of the Otonabee River. He then dove in and saved a man who was struggling to stay afloat.

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“He was in tears, 18 years old — pretty young guy,” said McIlwain during an interview with Global News last July.

“He was just shooken up, [you] couldn’t get much out of him,”

A year later, the heroic deed is being recognized by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commision. McIlwain is one of just three Canadians to recieve a medal  of recognition, a certificate and a cheque for $3,500.

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The Carnegie medal is given to those from the United States and Canada who risk their lives while saving, or attempting to save, the lives of others.

“They’re based out of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania and the States, so I’m getting a medal of recognition and I’ve already got a certificate,” said McIlwain. “So that’s very exciting for me.”

WATCH: (July 16, 2018) Teen hailed a hero after saving man from Otonabee River in Lakefield

Click to play video: 'Teen hailed a hero after saving man from Otonabee River in Lakefield'
Teen hailed a hero after saving man from Otonabee River in Lakefield

“He is certainly considered a hero in many peoples’ eyes and we’re going to recognize that fact tonight,” said Douro-Dummer Township Mayor J. Murray Jones.

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“What a great thing for a young kid like that to do. We’re very proud of him.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Peterborough County also gave McILwain a heroism award in May, and he received a bronze medal and certificate from the Governor General of Canada.

“[I’m] very excited, really looking forward to it, it’s a lot more than I was expecting for anything. I still really want to meet him and see how he’s doing,” said McIlwain.

McIlwain says he attributes his quick thinking to those who raised him.

“I’d like to thank my parents for helping me through everything. Not sure if I would have jumped in the water if they didn’t raise me the way they did — to always help someone in need and always do the right thing,” said the 17-year-old.

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During Tuesday’s Peterborough County Council meeting, McIlwain was joined by family, friends and politicians to receive his Carnegie medal and sincere congratulations.

While McIlwain says he’s proud of himself, he says if you happen to come across a similar situation, he might advise otherwise.

“I wouldn’t tell you to jump in the river, but do what you can to help,” said McIlwain.


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