Darrell Krushelnicki was leaving an Edmonton mall parking lot on Aug. 31 when he spotted a speeding driver who was talking on his cell phone while racing towards four young pedestrians on a crosswalk.
Without thinking, Krushelnicki swerved his Hummer into the path of the speeding car. He succeeded in shielding the children, but in the process lost a tooth and totalled his vehicle.
Since dubbed the “hummer hero,” Krushelnicki was one of 26 people to receive medals for their life-saving acts of bravery from the Royal Canadian Humane Association (RCHA) in Edmonton on Monday.
“It’s very overwhelming, very surprising, and I’m very honoured,” Krushelnicki told reporters after the awards ceremony.
The medals were presented by Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell, and the event was attended by Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht and family and friends of the heroes, as well some of the 31 people whose lives they saved.
Some of the stories behind the award-winners’ acts of bravery are reminiscent of scenes from a Hollywood action movie.
Edmonton bank manager Viriato Freire was awarded the Bronze Medal for Bravery after he guided an aggressive female bank robber brandishing a large kitchen knife towards himself and away from customers and other bank staff.
Just as the woman was about to lunge at Freire with the knife, police arrived and subdued her with a taser.
Joseph Brown was awarded the Silver Medal for Bravery after breaking up a bar fight in which one patron was attacking another with a machete.
Brown overpowered the machete-wielding man without using a weapon. After chasing the assailant away, he treated the bleeding victim’s deep wounds using his own clothing and towels.
Dion Lefebvre and Tyler Fowler were both awarded a bronze medal for pulling survivors to safety in an infamous collision in April that killed seven people on the notoriously dangerous Highway 63 to Fort McMurray, dubbed Alberta’s “highway of death.”
Fort McMurray constable Byron Wilkins was also awarded for bravery on Highway 63. On May 5, during his highway patrol he came across two hysterical and seemingly mentally unstable women driving a van erratically with two young children in the back seat.
After an arrest, a car chase, and brief hostage situation, Wilkins got the situation under control and brought the children to safety.
Many other police officers and RCMP were honoured at the ceremony, and represented nearly half of the award recipients.
“It is always mind-boggling to me to realize we have a tremendous number of Canadians who would step forward to save their fellow man,” Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell said during the ceremony.
“It is wonderful to know there are such strong-willed individuals among us.”
Though each story was unique, and the heroes put themselves into varying degrees of danger, their selfless acts were honoured because of the instrumental role their decisions played in saving the lives of others.
According to the RCHA’s website, the aim of the national award is: “To recognize such deeds of heroism, by Canadians in civilian life, who, through their alertness, skill and concern, save or attempt to save a life, especially where those actions lie outside the ordinary duties of the person involved.”
Paul Lorieau, who sang the national anthem at Edmonton Oilers games for 30 years, was one of those whose lives were saved. He attended the ceremony to honour his saviours, Len Chisholm and Marc Lohse.The two men pulled Lorieau from the water after he nearly drowned in Kinbasket Lake, near Valemount, B.C., when he fell into the water while trying to hitch his boat to a trailer on Aug. 4.
“I was in a serious situation. … Had I not had the help I don’t know what would have happened. The outcome I’m sure would not be the same,” Lorieau told the CBC.
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