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Heroes honoured for saving drowning man in Lynn Canyon

Good Samaritans receive Fire Chief’s Commendation for role in March 26 river rescue
Couple wins DNV commendation
Two Metro Vancouver residents, flanked by firefighters, receive the Fire Chief’s Commendation on May 13, 2021.

A pair of Good Samaritans who helped prevent a bad situation from turning into a tragic one have been officially commended for their efforts by District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

In a brief ceremony yesterday (May 13), Vancouver resident Veronica Petcoff and Langley resident Craig Vollweiter received the Fire Chief’s Commendation for their roles in helping save a man who fell into Lynn Canyon on March 26.

On that day, Vollweiter, a 26-year-old officer cadet with the Canadian Forces, was hiking in the park when he was approached by a young girl in distress who asked for help with an emergency around 1:15 p.m.

After accompanying the girl down to the boardwalk at the river’s edge near the Twin Falls Bridge, Vollweiter helped pull a man in his 60s to safety after he’d fallen in and was lying face down, unconscious in the water. The man’s wife was there but was having trouble lifting her husband out of the river.

“Training kicked in,” Vollweiter told the North Shore News the day after the incident. “I was starting to worry how long he’d been out.”

Vollweiter then gave the man chest compressions while directing the man’s wife in the rescue breathing techniques of CPR. After three cycles of CPR, the man started to breathe again.

While all this was happening, Petcoff, an avid trail runner, came upon the situation and sprang into action.

“She was training that day and she came upon this chaotic scene down at river’s edge. To support the CPR that was in progress, she actually ran from the river’s edge where the patient was located, 430 metres out to Lillooet Road and Baden Powell Trail to meet the first wave of rescuers,” said David Dales, assistant fire chief.

Petcoff then ran back and forth several times to meet subsequent waves of first responders to lead them to the patient, and helped identify the best path out of the park for emergency personnel after the patient had been treated and was ready for extraction.

“In all, I think she ran an extra 3.4 kilometres that day,” said Dales, who noted the pair helped prevent a very dangerous situation from becoming worse. “Everything went wrong – but everything went right.”

The Fire Chief’s Commendation is awarded to firefighters or members of the public for heroic acts that go above and beyond.

The chief has handed out fewer than 10 commendations in the last three years, according to Dales.

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