Islanders honoured for rescue in fiery crash

Gerard Young Times Colonist Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Michael Brook didn't know at the time but one of four family members he helped pull out of a burning truck was the brother of one of his employees.

The Colwood resident and four others from Vancouver Island worked together June 13 to pull out the parents and two daughters from the wreck near Shawnigan Lake. On Monday, the Governor General's office announced they will be awarded Medals of Bravery for their act of heroism.

"It is just something that happens to you in life," said Brook, a 57-year-old plastering contractor. "I'm not a hero. I was just passing and I ran to help."

Also involved in the rescue and to be awarded medals are Victoria residents Eric Pittman and David Saunders as well as Garth Doege of Cowichan Bay and Dirk Tolman of Chemainus.

Brook was building a log home in Lake Cowichan and was on his way back to Colwood when he spotted a burning truck on the Trans-Canada Highway.

The truck had been rear-ended by a pickup, then burst into flames before rolling backward into a ditch and igniting nearby trees.

The five were on the scene first and though they had to fight smoke, flames and minor burns, they managed to get the adults and two girls out.

The parents and one daughter survived but a nine-year-old girl died from her injuries.

The next day his employee called to say he could not come to work because his brother had been in a serious car accident.

"I said 'I know I pulled him out of the truck on the Malahat,'" he said.

The victims later invited them for a thank-you dinner to their home in the Sooke area.

Brook, a married father of two grown children, has been told the awards ceremony with Gov.-Gen. Adrienne Clarkson will be scheduled for sometime in September.

The Governor General announced Monday that 20 Medals of Bravery will be awarded, which also include other Island heroes.

Westshore RCMP Const. Kevin Thomson and Nanaimo RCMP Cpl. Kirby Anderson will be recognized for rescuing an elderly disabled woman from a burning house Oct. 11, 2002 in Port Alberni.

The frail woman was disoriented and couldn't move when the two called out to her.

They followed the sound of her voice through thick grey smoke to the bathroom where she was trapped and managed to get her out safely.

Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

Malahat VFD attended at the first story.