Right place, right time

Sharp-eyed Evansville man credited with lifesaving rescue

BURPEE MILLS—A retiree who chose Evansville as his new community has been credited with saving the life of a 73-year-old woman after her car plunged over an embankment on Union Road on the morning of Thursday, August 9.

Art Hayden and his wife Cora travelled along Union Road on the morning of August 9 on their way to the Burpee Mills community centre to volunteer their time, Mr. Hayden explained. On their return trip 15 minutes later, the Haydens noticed a large branch had fallen across the road that had not been there before.

Mr. Hayden said that he and his wife parked 200 metres away from the stretch of road where the branch was located, as the road narrowed there, and said he walked the length of highway to remove the broken piece of tree.

“On the walk back, I noticed a black piece of plastic on the road,” he told The Expositor. “I thought someone must have run over the branch and did some damage to their car. I looked around some more and saw a headlight so I looked even more.”

Mr. Hayden said that a “very steep” embankment runs alongside the highway, and upon looking over edge of the roadway, he saw what he believed to be a car in the bush seven or eight metres down.

“I called for my wife to come and we heard a radio playing from the car,” he explained. “I couldn’t get down to the car, but there was a laneway nearby with a house so we drove to it.”

After realizing the couple had not brought their cell phone, Ms. Hayden approached the house and used the phone there to call 9-1-1. By this time, Mr. Hayden had found the elderly woman in serious condition in her car and had begun first aid, calling for his wife to retrieve their first aid kit from the car. (Mr. Hayden is retired from his position as superintendent of safety for INCO.)

While Mr. Hayden stayed with the woman in her car, Ms. Hayden and the woman from the house nearby began directing traffic on the roadway above, waiting for paramedics to arrive. The woman was eventually lifted to Health Sciences North where she remains in hospital with serious injuries.

While the couple had never met the woman they helped to save, Mr. Hayden said they did learn she lived in Silver Water.

In a release Monday from the Ontario Provincial Police, The Expositor learned that Mr. Hayden was credited by police for saving the woman’s life and will be submitting his name for a lifesaving commendation award.

This came as a surprise to Mr. Hayden, who said, “I did what I did to help the lady out, not for any recommendation.”

“I was the superintendent of safety at INCO so I have first aid training and have had experience investigating incidents,” he added. “That experience really helped me out in this situation. The paramedics and all those people that do that work every day took charge and got her out of there. We’re just so fortunate that we were there—I was really just trying to be a good citizen and clear the road and ended up doing a lot more.”

“Everything happens for a reason, I guess,” Mr. Hayden observed philsophically.

The rescuer said he has heard that while the victim of the crash is still in hospital, she is recovering.

editor@manitoulin.ca