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‘A heroic act on river’s edge’: Good Samaritan saves drowning man in North Vancouver

Global News logo Global News 2021-03-27 Simon Little
a group of people in a forest: District of North Vancouver firefighters extricate a man Lynn Canyon on Friday. © Global News District of North Vancouver firefighters extricate a man Lynn Canyon on Friday.

An officer candidate with the Canadian Forces is being hailed as a hero for providing life-saving CPR to a man who fell into Lynn Canyon on Friday.

Craig Vollweiter was enjoying a day off in the popular park around 1:30 p.m., when he was approached by a young girl in distress who called for help.

Vollweiter said he followed the girl down to the boardwalk at the riverside, where he found other people calling for help and a woman holding her husband who was face down in the water.

"When we pulled him out, I realized he wasn't breathing," he said.

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The man, according to District of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Assistant Chief David Dales, had suffered a medical incident, slipped, hit his head and fallen into the water near the Twin Falls Bridge.

Between the frigid water, the man's injury and the fact he went into cardiac arrest, Dales said things could have turned out very differently if Vollweiter hadn't been there.

"(They were) in the process of drowning until they were rescued by this Good Samaritan," he said.

"A heroic act on river's edge."

Read more: Firefighters issue warning after rescuing anglers from Capilano River

The Langley officer cadet went to work giving the man chest compressions, as he directed the victim's wife in the breathing component of CPR and spoke with a 911 operator.

Vollweiter took his first CPR course 10 years ago, and while he's never had a chance to put it into practice, said he's kept his certification current.

"Today is just the day that put it all together," he said.

"There was a little bit of a language barrier because it was an Asian family, but we worked pretty well together."

The pair were able to get the man breathing again, then rolled him on his side until paramedics arrived to take over.

Video: Rescue crews in North Vancouver are ramping up their efforts to be ready in case of an outdoor emergency

Firefighters then transferred him to a stretcher for the one-kilometre, 300-stair climb to get out of the canyon to a waiting ambulance for transport to hospital.

Vollweiter told Global News he's still processing the experience, including the rollercoaster of emotion he went through.

"Instinctively I didn't think he was going to come back, I was worried I was going to have to console his wife and daughter until EMS came, but the fact he started breathing and actually did come around, it shocked me," he said.

"I'm glad to have helped."

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