A Maple Ridge man was in the right place at the right time twice within 10 minutes, thwarting a theft and a sexual assault.
On Wednesday, he was one of 22 recipients of a Certificate of Merit from the Vancouver Police Board – its highest award for civilian bravery.
Karl Dey was making his rounds in downtown Vancouver delivering water for Mountain Springs Water Company on Dec. 11, 2017 near the intersection of Homer Street and Cordova Street in Gastown.
That morning, he entered a shoe shop and went to the back room with the person working to see how many bottles were needed. When he returned to the showroom, he noticed a man standing by the door with something under his jacket. When the man ran, Dey gave chase. Turning a corner, there was an unmarked police car passing at the moment and a female officer asked Dey if the man stole something. When Dey said yes, the officer jumped out of the car to give chase, as well.
They tackled the man on the street.
It turns out the man had stolen a backpack worth around $600.
Dey, 6’1, 198 pounds, was asked to wait by his truck to make a statement to police. So he finished his delivery, then just as he went back to his truck to wait, he heard a woman scream.
“Like a curdling scream,” said Dey.
He looked in the direction of the scream and ran across the street to a clothing store. He saw a man pulling his pants up and a woman yelling that he tried to rape her. Dey told the man to get on the ground. But the man challenged Dey before running out a back door on to Water Street.
Dey again chased and tackled the man near the steam clock by Cambie Street. He held the suspect with the help of another man until police arrived.
“Then the cops looked at me and said, ‘Aren’t you the same guy that was just dealing with something else up the road there?’”
Dey received his award this past week.
“Of the many people who have received an Award of Merit over the years, never before has a recipient committed two deserving acts in such a short space of time,” reads the certificate.
“For leaping into action, not once, but twice, and ensuring a prolific property crime offender and a violent sex offender were arrested by police, despite a risk to his own safety.”
Dey has a daughter near the same age as the female victim, who’s about 25. When he heard her screams, he said his fatherly instincts took over.
“It wasn’t even a hesitation. I just saw that girl and the look on her face and that guy … ” he added.
“I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The girl’s family reached out to Dey to say thank you. Her father gave him a hug.
Dey’s wife Michelle couldn’t be more proud of him.
“That’s totally in his nature,” she said of his heroics, although he’s not usually a physical guy.
“He’s not a hot-head.”
When he first texted her about what happened, she thought he was joking.
“You would hope that somebody would be there for you or your daughter if they needed help.”