Two Cherryville men have been recognized for their teamwork in saving the life of a Nakusp mother and grandmother.
Dan Balcaen and his stepson, Kevin Meda, were recently presented with the St. John Ambulance provincial award of merit, based on a recommendation from the Lumby RCMP, for their efforts in helping save the life of a woman following a car accident and subsequent car fire on March 1, 2013 near Cherryville.
“It’s very rewarding for both of us,” said Balcaen of the honour.
“It was one of those situations in life where you just, I don’t know, you just deal with it. To have a lady like that with so many children and grandchildren to carry on was just a great feeling for us to be there at that time.”
The 77-year-old woman – a mother of eight, grandmother to 25 and great grandmother to 30 – was driving her 1998 Oldsmobile westbound on Highway 6 when the vehicle drifted off-road into a ditch and struck a tree head-on.
A fire erupted in the engine compartment, filled the car with smoke. The woman, an asthmatic, had trouble breathing, and the collision had knocked the driver’s door out of alignment, preventing the woman from getting out of the car.
Balcaen and Meda had been eastbound on the highway in separate vehicles when the sight of the flames drew them to the scene.
The two men pulled the door frame away from the chassis, creating a space to reach the driver. The pair grabbed the woman by her arms and pulled her from the vehicle and supported her to the nearby embankment.
The car was then totally engulfed in flames and destroyed.
Balcaen and Meda were presented their awards by St. John Ambulance Brigade Divisional Superintendent Drew Hilland, and by Lumby RCMP Const. Dan Cocks, who was the same attending officer the night of the accident.