Princeton first responders attended a ceremony Wednesday to honor Brian Vanderlinde of Keremeos, and Gary Lind of Princeton. Photo Andrea DeMeer

B.C. man who pulled unconscious toddler from submerged car a modest hero

“It just looked like, in his eyes, he was dead.”

Brian Vanderlinde gives every impression of being uncomfortable with the word “hero.”

When asked a direct question he is liable to shrug and look away. His answers are short, and straightforward.

His wife leans in with a smile. “Brian is a very modest person.”

But modesty wasn’t the quality Vanderlinde drew on, when he jumped into a fast flowing creek and used an axe to smash the back window of an overturned and submerged car, crawled though the broken glass into the vehicle and wrestled an unconscious toddler to safety.

Vanderlinde, who lives in Keremeos, and Gary Lind of Princeton were honored Wednesday with the BC Ambulance Good Samaritan Award.

Vanderlinde was driving on Highway 5A near Princeton with his 12-year-old son, on October 17, 2017, when he came across the scene.

READ MORE: Axe-wielding Keremeos hero describes toddler’s rescue

“I was trying to figure out why there was a wet lady on the road,” he said.

The woman screamed: “My son! My son!”

Vanderlinde then saw the car, upside down in the water.

He recalls looking at his own child. “I said ‘sorry’ and then I handed him my phone and told him to call 911.”

Vanderlinde wasn’t able to open any of the vehicle’s doors. He tried without success to kick in the rear window.

When asked if the water was cold Vanderlinde said: “I didn’t really notice.”

When asked what he was thinking, he said: “I was just doing.”

As he was scrambling on the bank, looking for a rock to break the glass, a local truck driver, Gary Lind, arrived and threw an axe to Vanderlinde.

He broke the window and struggled to release the boy, who was suspended by his seat belt, underwater. Once he was freed Vanderlinde said: “It just looked like, in his eyes, he was dead.”

Lind took the three-year-old and began resuscitation efforts. A doctor who was also on the highway stopped and took over treatment, just before paramedics arrived.

Vanderlinde said he experienced great relief when bubbles started coning from the boy’s mouth “and then his eyes kind of came back…he was back.”

Paramedic Daniel Peacock, who nominated the two men for the Good Samaritan Award, said their “quick thinking and selfless actions…saved the life of a child.”

RCMP reported shortly after the incident that the child was underwater for approximately three minutes, but made a full recovery.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Buddhist monument to be dedicated in Slocan cemetery

A new post has been created to mark the site where at least nine Japanese Canadians were cremated

Passenger counts still rising at West Kootenay Regional Airport

Reliability rates also on rise in second quarter.

Andrew Bellerby out as RDCK’s regional fire chief

Bellerby held the job since January 2016

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Abra Brynne wins Kootenay-Columbia Green Party nomination

Brynne is one of three candidates who will challenge MP Wayne Stetski

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read