Sonny Walterhouse receives the bronze medal for bravery from the Royal Canadian Humane Association at its Investiture Ceremony for B.C. Oct. 6. With him is Lieu. Governor of BC Judith Guichon, patron of the association. Ron Mullins photo

Local men receive bravery awards for saving lives of others

Fire and fast-moving water didn’t deter them from acting quickly

Three local men have received awards for their bravery while saving other people’s lives.

Royal Air Cadet Flight Sgts. Patrick Hamer and Brayden Koning received the Bronze Medal for Bravery for their “swift action stopping a fire from spreading and saving others from injury or worse” from the Royal Canadian Humane Association at its annual ceremony, held in West Kelowna earlier this month.

On Oct. 17, 2015, five senior air cadets set up a tent on a wooden platform they had built and went to bed. At 1:30 a.m., fire broke out in the wood stove in the tent.

Hamer woke up when he felt heat and discovered the entire wall of their tent was on fire, blocking the only exit. He roused the others and then with the help of Koning partially extinguished the flames using water from a container. They used knives to cut their way out and got rid of most of the smouldering tent canvas.

Their friends were coughing so they helped them outside, then kicked out the support centre post in the tent, which was blazing away, threw it outside and watered it down. Koning went to the creek and filled water buckets and he and Hamer removed the stove from the tent.

“Had the fire continued any further, the tent would’ve collapsed, undoubtedly causing bodily harm,” read the announcer before the pair received their medals.

All the boys suffered smoke inhalation and Hamer burned his hand.

Another award went to a pair of brothers, only one who lives here in Terrace, for saving the life of a friend from the roaring Skeena River.

Sonny Walterhouse received the Bronze Medal for Bravery “for saving his friend from drowning in the fast-flowing Skeena River.

His brother Thomas Walterhouse received an Honorary Testimonial Certificate “for his presence of mind.”

Thomas could not be there so Sonny accepted the certificate on his behalf.

On Sept. 11 2016, four young men went canoeing on the Skeena River.

They had only three lifejackets between them but Wolf Ellert said he was a good swimmer and could go without one.

As they came to a wide portion of the river, their canoe flipped, sending all four into the water.

Sonny and Thomas swam to shore while Wolf and Andrew Walker held onto the canoe for while and then let go, trying to get to shore.

Andrew eventually did make it, but Wolf became caught in a strong current that was pulling him further downriver.

He was bobbing in the water unable to continue and feeling the effects of the freezing water when Sonny noticed his friend in serious trouble and decided to help him.

Thomas took off his lifejacket and gave it to Sonny, saying one was not enough for Sonny and Wolf.

Sonny swam out 40 metres to Wolf, helped him put on the lifejacket and both swam to shore.

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