Two citizens received commendation awards from the Abbotsford Police Department on Tuesday for their heroic efforts in two separate incidents.
Peter McGraa, 45, was recognized for pulling Bryan Volden, 65, from his partially submerged vehicle on March 17, when it crashed into the Sumas River in McDonald Park.
McGraa witnessed the accident, swam out to the vehicle and attempted to get into the car, but the doors were locked and all the windows were closed.
He made two trips back to the shoreline to find a rock that could break the driver’s side rear window. McGraa then pulled Volden out of the car, brought him to shore and performed CPR until emergency crews arrived.
Volden died two days later in hospital due to heart failure, which was believed to be the cause of the accident.
At Tuesday’s presentation before the police board, Mayor George Peary said that because of McGraa’s actions, Volden survived long enough for his out-of-province family to arrive and see him before he passed away.
Volden’s family were in attendance at the presentation.
“We are just eternally grateful to Peter for such a selfless act in that moment,” said Rebecca Del Pozo of Seattle, one of Volden’s two daughters.
The other commendation was presented to Dan Visser, who led police to the suspect in a brutal racial assault that occurred on April 26.
Four Indo-Canadian men were sitting on a bench in the area of Old Yale Road and McConnell Creek with some friends when they were approached by a Caucasian man in his 20s.
The man yelled obscenities and derogatory ethnic comments, and then struck one of the men in the face with a liquor bottle, knocking him to the ground. The assailant then ran off. The 63-year-old victim did not require hospitalization, but his face was bruised.
As police were working with local residents to identify and locate a suspect, Visser advised officers that he had previously seen a man matching the description riding a bike and walking in the area.
He said he would attempt to take a photo of the suspect the next time he saw him. The resulting photograph proved to be a key piece of evidence.
Daronne Dobni, 29, was arrested and charged with assault with a weapon and is now making his way through the court system.
Visser said he felt compelled to help when he heard what had happened.
“It was helping contribute to right a wrong, and it was an honour to be able to do it,” he said.