The taped-over windows and the hose leading into the running pickup from the exhaust on the side of Westside Road were clues to Ryan Winkler that something wasn’t right.
A self-employed excavating contractor, Winkler was heading into Vernon Sept. 8 from his home near Parker Cove at 4 a.m. when he noticed the truck and called Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP.
Winkler was advised to smash a window to let the air out. Grabbing a hammer from his tool box, Winkler obliged.
“I expected the worst,” said Winkler, one of three people awarded Certificates of Appreciation by Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Insp. Jim McNamara Monday morning for going above and beyond in helping police.
“I was trying to get a response. I didn’t know if the person inside was alive or awake. When I broke the window, it was enough for him to come to.
“He panicked and didn’t like seeing me. He put the car in drive and drove away. I was glad to see him move.”
Winkler called RCMP back and told him the truck had left. Police found the truck and driver and the man inside was taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital for treatment.
Winkler’s action saved the man’s life.
“My fear was I’d come across someone sitting there dead and I was worried about that, wanted him to be alive,” said Winkler, who was modest about receiving an accommodation.
“I don’t think I did anything different than anyone else would have done. I did what I thought I was right, trying to help. I don’t feel like i did anything special.”
Also receiving Certificates of Appreciation were Okanagan Landing neighbours Dave (Doc) Lowry and John Barber for their role in helping RCMP nab a theft suspect.
The pair noticed a person in a motorized boat towing three kayaks on Okanagan Lake shortly before 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 10.
Lowry contacted police while Barber confronted and photographed the suspect.
When police arrive, the pair pointed out the suspect’s location on the lake and utilized Barber’s boat to take police out toward the suspect.
When the suspect realized he was being followed, he abandoned his boat near shore and went to land, where he was eventually arrested.
Lowry and Barber helped police by towing the boats to a public boat launch where they could be seized.
Their efforts stopped a potential crime spree, and aided police in returning numerous stolen items to a number of victims.
Lowry had no hesitation in getting involved.
“I think I speak for both of us but we saw someone stealing stuff that could very well have been ours,” said Lowry. “At 5:30 a.m., someone doing that isn’t doing it legally. Between the two of us, we were able to help police find and arrest the suspect, and we’re thrilled to learn criminal charges against him are proceeding. That’s a great thing.”
Said Barber on receiving the certificate: “I was really surprised, but quite happy. I was doing what I felt should be done.”
The local detachment is always happy to be assisted in their work by the public. But as McNamara said, this trio went out of their way to offer assistance.
“It’s my pleasure to honour some of our citizens who helped us out in the past couple of months,” he said. “In these cases, there was a little more to it than just calling us.”