A quartet of first responders — two firefighters and two police constables — received a rare citation from the City of Courtenay for saving the life of Baby Grant Weaver during a January incident in the Puntledge River.
Monday at council, Mayor Larry Jangula presented commendations to firefighters Margaret Hamilton and Chris Murdock, and RCMP constables Steve Trevor and Mike Wheeler for extraordinary efforts that exceeded the call of duty.
“Thank you so much,” Jangula said. “In the face of extremely hazardous, difficult situations, two firefighters and two policemen placed their lives in jeopardy. They wandered into very dangerous, swift moving, deep water to rescue a child and the child’s mother, although the child’s mother was deceased by that time.”
The responders rescued seven-month-old Grant from the Puntledge near the Condensory Bridge Jan. 30. Grant’s mother, 26-year-old Veronika Sophie Weaver, perished during the incident. It remains unclear as to how the two wound up in the river.
Grant was in critical condition. He was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital then airlifted to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
“It was a chaotic day,” Trevor said. “It was a lot of emotional highs and lows. In the end, Baby Grant survived, and that’s the most important thing. I’m just happy we were able to do our part.”
Grant spent all of February at the Children’s Hospital – two weeks in intensive care, then at Sunny Hill Health Centre – his father, Doug, at his side throughout.
Murdock is happy he and the other three could be in the right place at the right time.
“Margaret and I were actually third truck in, so we went to a different location than the other trucks trying to spread out our crews. We just happened to be walking down, and one of the officers was just ahead of us. Then we found Baby Grant in the water. We just walked into the water, chained out to get the baby out.
“We received a tremendous amount of help,” he added. “We just did CPR until everybody else was there and took over. It was such a group effort.”
Murdock credits police, ambulance attendants, firefighters, and Search and Rescue volunteers for their combined efforts.
“They all work so well together that everybody deserves credit in the whole situation,” he said.
Jangula — a retired police officer — noted that police and firefighters constantly take risks, but said the “combination part is rare.
“In fact, this is the first one (Mayor’s Commendation) I’ve ever done. The reason this is so significant is because they put their own lives and their own safety at great risk to do this.”
Grant and Doug Weaver have relocated to Victoria. Grant will continue rehabilitation at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health.