Feature Story Wednesday, September 24, 2014
More Than Heroes
Fishing buddies tour of duty just another day on the river
Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz presents certificates of recognition to Gary Lenihan (L) and Colin Lang for saving a boy from being swept away in the Fraser River. Below, a Google image of the area.
hilliwack residents Colin Lang and Gary Lenihan were at City Hall last Tuesday picking up citations in recognition of their bravery for the rescue of a young White Rock boy from the torrents of the Fraser River off of Gill Rd. last summer.
This isn't just another story of average people doing extraordinary things. This goes beyond that.
It starts off as an normal day with fishing buddies out camping overnight off of Gill Bar. But by afternoon, the story suddenly changed to one of inimitable character and gutsy courage, and because of that, a young life wasn’t claimed by the river that day.
It was late afternoon and the guys were just tucking into turkey dinner on the riverbank.
"Colin was watching the river because this young fellow was in the water, and without a life jacket," Lenihan told The Voice prior to the council meeting.
Suddenly there was a shriek.
Lang saw that the kid was in trouble and leapt to his feet and without so much as a second thought, threw his wallet on the shore, and ran headlong into the water. He didn't even stop to take off his watch and glasses, which ended up being lost in the river.
By this time, the boy was clinging for dear life to a submerged stump near the shore. In his haste, Lang underestimated the current and overshot the boy.
"Colin swam by him because he went with the current and he ended up going on the bank downriver and then he ran back up," said Lenihan.
Lenihan watched as his friend scrambled up the bank and dove in again. Only this time he connected and the youngster latched onto Lang, who made a beeline for shore.
But it wasn’t that easy with a scared kid clinging to him.
"Colin was having a hard time swimming and that's when he figured he lost his watch because the young lad panicked and was all over him," recalled Lenihan.
Despite the boy's weight, Lang managed to get a foothold on the bank. By that time, the boy's father – who also heard his son scream – had come running.
Lenihan was in position to help his friend.
"When they came towards shore, I just reached out and grabbed Colin's hand and yanked him and the boy in. The dad had to help Colin actually," he said.
It was all too close.
"If Colin would have turned to get something to eat, he wouldn't have seen the kid. The kid would probably have drowned," he said.
"Thanks to Colin, Gary, and their friends on shore, that boy is alive today," said Mayor Sharon Gaetz on Tuesday while presenting the certificates to the two men.
Lenihan said Lang is a quiet type of guy and really didn't want to make a big deal about the rescue.
Later on, Lang went into Great Glasses 3 for 1 on Hocking Ave at Yale Rd. and ordered his new glasses.
Lenihan found out his pal had gone to the store and so he went in and told the proprietors the whole story.
“They gave him $300 off his glasses. I really want people to know what, a super company Great Glasses is," said Lenihan.
The following morning at the river, the friends were having coffee when the boy's father came over and extended his hand.
“Thank you. I woke up with my son beside me this morning," he said.
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