Two youths rescued from icy creek

Two youths spent what seemed like an eternity on Sunday – upside down, dangling from seatbelts – in running water on one of the coldest days of the year.
Ben Dewar, 18, of Guelph, and a passenger, Walter Harris, 17, were returning home from church in foul weather. Dewar said in an interview on Monday he was approaching a one-lane bridge on the Eramosa-Gara­fraxa Townline Road, and sud­denly saw headlights through the blowing snow, and realized the vehicles would crash on the bridge.
He veered to the right, hit the guardrail, and flip­ped upside down into the creek. Both were wear­ing their seatbelts, and he said Harris was soon free, trying to open a door.
That, though, was impos­sible with the door wedged against the ice, and Dewar said because most of the windows were under water, the cab of the truck was dark, and water from the stream was rushing in. They had to bend their heads to keep then out of the water, and Dew­ar said it seemed like about five minutes trapped in the cab be­fore they were rescued.
Gary Kent, 29, who moved from Fergus to near Ennotville two days earlier, was visiting relatives, and stopped shortly after the crash. He said he saw the struck guardrail but it was not until he exited his vehicle that he saw the truck in the creek. The driver of the van, Corinne DeJong, who lives near Rockwood, had been driving her van with seven children when the accident hap­pened. She said visibility was better from her direction, and she saw the truck enter the creek and told Kent someone was still in it.
DeJong said her daughter, Victoria, 16, was ready to enter the creek despite the fast flow­ing water and cold when Kent arrived. He went into the creek, forced open the truck door, and dragged Harris to shore.
Kent said the two women helped Dewar and Harris into their van, and DeJong im­mediately took off with them to Groves Hospital.  He picked up two girls from the DeJong van who had run to a farmhouse to call for help, and he, too, headed to the hospital.
Kent’s pants, wet to the thighs, were immediately froz­en when he left the water, and he was starting later on to get cold because he first went to the hospital to ensure the boys were okay, and then stop­ped to talk to fire officials at the bridge before he could get a change of clothes. He was with his wife, Joanna, and their 18month-old daughter, Aut­umn, when the rescue took place.
Crawford Dewar said in an interview that Kent is a bona fide hero for saving his son and Harris.
He also had praise for the emergency per­son­nel at Groves, who moved quickly to treat Dewar and Harris. Both boys were treated for hypothermia.
Ben Dewar said Monday that he was a little sore the next day after his cold, wet adventure, but was suffering no other ill effects.
Kent, too, was fine, and  was pleased the boys were able to come out of the truck so easily once the doors were open.
Dewar said the doors were blocked by ice. They  had been kicking at them, but were unable to budge them.
Kent said, “I knew the only way to get them out was if I could get the door open,” he said. “I jumped in and yanked a couple of times, and as soon as it opened, they both came out.”
Kent, a plumber for a Guelph company, did not really think about going into the water. “I was just glad the two passengers had their heads above water and I didn’t have to go swimming,” he said.
DeJong, too, called Kent a hero.
“It was an awful situation,” she said. “He [Kent] went right down to the truck; he pulled open the doors. He was in past his knees – and the water was flowing very quickly.”
She added, “I can’t re­mem­ber exactly how it all happened. I was getting pretty panicked.”
She said when the youths were pulled from the truck, “They looked terrible.”
When they reached her van, the children took off their coats and covered the boys for the drive to Groves. DeJong said one of the young girls in her van was cry­ing and the rest were shaken by the incident, but overall she was pleased at the result.
“The real hero was the man who stopped. I wish I could have done more,” she said. “I was crying to God to help us, and all of a sudden, this guy showed up. It was an answer to my prayer.”