Princeton first responders attended a ceremony Wednesday to honor Brian Vanderlinde of Keremeos, and Gary Lind of Princeton. Photo Andrea DeMeer

B.C. man who pulled unconscious toddler from submerged car a modest hero

“It just looked like, in his eyes, he was dead.”

Brian Vanderlinde gives every impression of being uncomfortable with the word “hero.”

When asked a direct question he is liable to shrug and look away. His answers are short, and straightforward.

His wife leans in with a smile. “Brian is a very modest person.”

But modesty wasn’t the quality Vanderlinde drew on, when he jumped into a fast flowing creek and used an axe to smash the back window of an overturned and submerged car, crawled though the broken glass into the vehicle and wrestled an unconscious toddler to safety.

Vanderlinde, who lives in Keremeos, and Gary Lind of Princeton were honored Wednesday with the BC Ambulance Good Samaritan Award.

Vanderlinde was driving on Highway 5A near Princeton with his 12-year-old son, on October 17, 2017, when he came across the scene.

READ MORE: Axe-wielding Keremeos hero describes toddler’s rescue

“I was trying to figure out why there was a wet lady on the road,” he said.

The woman screamed: “My son! My son!”

Vanderlinde then saw the car, upside down in the water.

He recalls looking at his own child. “I said ‘sorry’ and then I handed him my phone and told him to call 911.”

Vanderlinde wasn’t able to open any of the vehicle’s doors. He tried without success to kick in the rear window.

When asked if the water was cold Vanderlinde said: “I didn’t really notice.”

When asked what he was thinking, he said: “I was just doing.”

As he was scrambling on the bank, looking for a rock to break the glass, a local truck driver, Gary Lind, arrived and threw an axe to Vanderlinde.

He broke the window and struggled to release the boy, who was suspended by his seat belt, underwater. Once he was freed Vanderlinde said: “It just looked like, in his eyes, he was dead.”

Lind took the three-year-old and began resuscitation efforts. A doctor who was also on the highway stopped and took over treatment, just before paramedics arrived.

Vanderlinde said he experienced great relief when bubbles started coning from the boy’s mouth “and then his eyes kind of came back…he was back.”

Paramedic Daniel Peacock, who nominated the two men for the Good Samaritan Award, said their “quick thinking and selfless actions…saved the life of a child.”

RCMP reported shortly after the incident that the child was underwater for approximately three minutes, but made a full recovery.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has been called in

PHOTOS: West Coast Christmas Show and Artisan Market at Tradex

Over the past 11 years the show has been attended by over 175,000 visitors

SARA for Women names new executive director

Jennifer Breakspear accepts position after two months as interim ED

The Debaters take on the holidays in live show

Hit CBC Radio show comes to Abbotsford Arts Centre on Nov. 22

Advocate for the homeless receives UFV’s Young Distinguished Alumni Award

Jesse Wegenast of Chilliwack recognized for extensive community work in Abbotsford

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Security camera records hatchet attack on Langley store owner

Target escaped uninjured, but was ‘upset’ by incident

PHOTOS: Snoozing seal pup captures attention at White Rock Pier

Dozens of seals spent the day at White Rock’s iconic structure

VIDEO: Collision in Surrey breaks axle off SUV

Two people were reportedly sent to hospital

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants blank Cougars 4-0

Goaltender David Tendeck turned aside all 38 Prince George shots for his WHL-leading third shutout

Most Read