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Family that survived fatal Thunder Bay crash thanks the Good Samaritans who helped them

'Always in our hearts and never forgotten,' says the embroidered message on a quilt

THUNDER BAY —A face-to-face meeting between a Thunder Bay family and the couple who came to their aid after a deadly highway accident has cemented their bond.

The collision at Sistonen's Corner in September claimed the lives of two men in a transport truck.

Four people in a pickup truck were badly injured.

Last Friday, in their first meeting since the accident, the family presented Denis and Norma Bresolin with handmade quilts embroidered with the message "Always in our hearts and never forgotten."

Describing the couple as their guardian angels, Jennifer Kutzler told TBNewswatch what they did for her, her husband Shannon Campbell and two of their grandchildren was "absolute heroism."

"Their kindness will never be forgotten. For them to be able to pick up that something was about to happen, and to come back to help in such a horrible situation" is an example for everyone, Kutzler said.

The Bresolins were driving home to Thunder Bay the night of Sept. 11 when they met a tractor-trailer on Highway 102, headed for the intersection with Highway 11/17.

Recognizing that the transport was going too fast to make the turn, they watched in horror through their rearview mirrors as it T-boned the pickup truck.

The couple immediately turned around to help at the accident site, where they were shocked at how mangled the vehicles were.

There was nothing they could do for the two occupants of the transport – both of whom died – but in the pickup they found two distraught and injured children, and two adults who were also hurt.

With some difficulty, Denis Bresolin was able to extricate a six-year-old girl, a five-year-old boy and both their grandparents.

Smelling leaking diesel fuel, he felt he needed to get everyone away from the vehicle before an explosion or fire.

He and his wife then worked to make the survivors as comfortable as possible and to slow the bleeding from their wounds.

From his First Aid training, Bresolin also realized the importance of talking to the victims to keep them conscious until paramedics arrived.

More than three months later, Kutzler recalls "Denis being beside me and trying to comfort me, because I wanted to pass out. And my grandson was beside me. He was crying and he kept asking 'Who's going to look after me, grandma?' And I remember Norma being on the phone to 911. They were just so on the ball."

The two families kept in touch electronically after the collision, but Kutzler said they always intended to get together once everyone had recuperated from their injuries.

Both the kids were at their grandparents' home when the Bresolins came by to chat and accept two quilts made by Kutzler's sister-in-law. 

The traumatic incident has made the families lifelong friends.

"We'll never forget it...We check in with each other pretty well every day. We have plans to see one another again." Kutzler said. 

For Denis Bresolin, the reunion was a very emotional event.

He said Shannon Campbell wanted to learn more about what happened the night of Sept. 11, as he recalls nothing beyond the immediate impact of the transport truck.

Bresolin still chokes up when talking about it.

"They are such a beautiful family," he said, adding that the gift of the quilts is extremely meaningful.

"They told us 'Here's something that will last forever with you guys, and with us.' "




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Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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