Med student involved in heroic rescue
It's unlikely third-year medical student Greg Rideout will ever forget the afternoon of Jan. 2, 2002, when he spent about half an hour holding up the head of a man trapped in a submerged vehicle in the icy, fast-moving Southwest River near Clarenville.
With the help of volunteer firefighters from Port Blandford, Greg was eventually able to free Mike Carroll, a 40-year-old teacher in Grand Falls-Windsor. Mr. Carroll was about 25 km west of Clarenville when his Ford Explorer left the road, hit a guardrail and landed in the river.
Greg was en route from St. John's to Grand Falls-Windsor where he is beginning an elective in pediatrics. He and his brother noticed a number of people gathered around a guardrail; they stopped to see if they could be of assistance and saw a vehicle in the water with a man's head sticking out.
"We felt so helpless on shore," said Greg. "The water was cold but not frozen. I thought I could crawl to the vehicle with a short piece of rope tied around me. When I got there I couldn't lift the man, all I could do was get on the roof and hold the driver's head above water until the fire department arrived."
He stayed to help assistant fire chief Jim Perry, accompanied by Alvin White, Raymond Chapman, Shannon Penney, Art Chapman and Paul Chapman. Like him, they crawled over the slushy ice to reach the vehicle and with the help of a sheet of plywood managed to drag the victim out.
"This was my first experience with this type of accident. I was worried about spinal injuries. I kept telling him to keep his eyes open."
He doesn't consider himself a hero. "All I did was get to the vehicle and hold the man's head and shoulders out of the water. The whole experience was very intense, I was surprised when I found out how much time I had been out there - it only felt like a few minutes."
RCMP Const. Gerald Parsons of the Clarenville detachment does consider Greg and the volunteer firemen to be heroes. "When I arrived on the scene, Mr. Rideout was on top of a vehicle showing only six inches above the water. The firemen had to go out over the slob ice in their heavy boots and coats - they were all in danger of their own lives.
If it hadn't been for his actions, the man in that submerged Ford Explorer would have drowned."