RCMP are celebrating a rural Saskatchewan hero who led stranded motorists to safety amid Monday’s blizzard.
An intense Alberta clipper swept through the prairies that last day in January that left many people stuck on roadsides with near-zero visibility and many highways closed.
Police say one roadside saviour – Barry Kennedy – helped 11 vehicles back to safety.
“What I found out when he was on the road, he found one person and another,” said Staff Sgt. Burton Jones from the Yorkton Detachment. “He created a convoy leading back to Yorkton with all the vehicles following him.”
A couple of members from the public reached out to the Yorkton detachment wanting to thank the person who saved them from the treacherous conditions Monday night. No one had taken his name that night – only a vehicle description and license plate number.
Sgt. Jones used the information given to track Kennedy down. He then called him and asked to meet, saying he wanted to present him with something.
“I was truly touched and I wanted to reach out to this gentleman,” Jones said.
Jones and another Yorkton police officer met with Kennedy and his wife at a Canadian Tire parking lot on Wednesday. Both officers personally thanked him and award him with a Yorkton RCMP Challenge Coin.
Kennedy, who lives on an acreage in between Yorkton and Melville, said when he received the phone call from Sgt. Jones, he thought it was a prank.
“Not much in my life that the RCMP wanted to give to me,” he laughed.
Kennedy recalls the events of Monday night vividly. He’d gotten a phone call from his daughter who was stuck on the grid road. As he went to her rescue, he stumbled upon other motorists who were also stuck.
Kennedy said it was a scary drive as he white-knuckled it to Yorkton. The only thing on his mind was to ensure everyone got to their destinations.
“I had 11 vehicles following and we made it to Yorkton safely,” he said. “People stopped to give me hugs and thanked me.”
Kennedy said it’s in the nature of Saskatchewan people to help each other, especially in tough times like that.
He didn’t know his efforts would have such a ripple effect of gratitude. The unexpected honour and the gift of the coin, though small, mean something much bigger.
Sgt. Jones said it’s very rare for the special Yorkton RCMP Challenge Coins to be given out.