Feature Story                                                                                         Monday, February 20, 2012


Reaching Beyond One's Limits

Chilliwack resident receives recognition for heroics

Craig Hill/Voice photos


Mayor Sharon Gaetz listens to Shawn Nagurny talk about rescuing people from a burning plane in October.


very now and then Chilliwack City Hall gives out a certificate of recognition to a community hero, who is someone that does great things in the community.


Very few of those certificates actually have the word "Hero" or “Rescue” printed on them. But Chilliwack resident Shawn Nagurny's does.


That's because last October, he and six others rescued passengers from a burning airplane after it crashed on Russ Baker Way in Richmond.


According to reports, a Northern Thunderbird Beechcraft King making it's way to Kelowna with nine people on board ran into engine trouble shortly after taking off from YVR. The pilot turned the plane around, but tragically it crashed about 1000 meters short of the runway.


Without thinking, he and the others bolted from the building where he works and straight to the burning fuselage. Seeing there were people still inside, he and the other six managed to get the doors open and the people out before flames reached the cabin.


Nagurny told reporters that a woman on the plane was tangled in the seat belt and everything was coated in plane fuel.


"It was pretty devastating," said an emotional Nagurny, adding that he couldn't have done it alone. "It was good to see there were so many people helping out other than just myself, without them I wouldn't be here."


Sadly, the pilot died the following day from injuries however his wife and baby and the others survived thanks in part to Nagurny.


Gaetz opened by talking about role models that we had in life and how they influence us throughout our lives.


"We all have heroes and when I was a little girl I used to enjoy watching Superman. He was the guy that could stop the speeding bullet with his hand and rush into burning buildings and do everything I wished I could do as a little girl."


"In present day life, we actually have such heroes, maybe not the ones can stop speeding bullets but ones who sacrifice life and limb taking no thought for their own safety to help other people," continued Gaetz who was deeply touched by Nagurny's bravery and wrapped up the ceremony with some profound thoughts.


"People who were in the plane may not have made it, had it not been for your heroic effort. I think every good deed they do, every pleasurable moment they live for the rest of their lives is directly attributable to you and I hope that's waiting because it certainly should be and we have a  lot to give thanks for," she said.


"I'm here to say thank you, not only on behalf of a very grateful and proud community, Sean, but I'm here to say thank you on behalf of the people whose lives you now share, because you reached beyond yourself."



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