Ken Brown was at the First Street dock in Tofino, B.C. on Monday afternoon when he saw a floatplane crash into a water taxi.
The Ahousaht man untied his own water taxi and rushed to the site of the collision.
As he approached the plane, it started to sink forward. A door to the plane opened and a young boy appeared.
“I extend my hand out and then I tell this little boy, ‘OK, you’ve got to come towards me.’ So he comes towards me. I get him aboard and he’s shivering,” he said.
Brown then helped the boy’s father and two other passengers onto his boat and brought them ashore.
The pilot of the plane was also brought safely to shore.
The crash was the second in waters off Tofino in four months. In July, a floatplane flipped and crashed, sending five people to hospital.
Days after the collision, Brown says he’s still trying to process what took place.
“The young boy that was on the plane, I have a son about the same age,” he said. “I’m still stunned, just speechless over it.”
Nearly six years to the day of Monday’s rescue, Brown helped rescue passengers of a whale-watching boat that capsized near Tofino in 2015.
Brown was among the first on the scene when the Leviathan II flipped over, sending 27 passengers and crew into the water.
Six people were killed by the accident and the fast effort was credited for saving the other 21 passengers on board.
Brown said he helped save 13 people on the Leviathan II, along with the four in Monday’s collision.
He says he is grateful for the praise he’s received from his community, but he is not entirely comfortable being called a hero – with one notable exception.
“I soak it in when my kids call me a hero,” he said. ” I’ll hug them and say, ‘Yeah, your dad’s a hero.'”
— with files from The Canadian Press