BY KEITH LACEY
A cross-country skier is suffering from the effects of hypothermia but is expected to make a full recovery after falling through the ice Thursday.
His neighbour Brian Purvis and police officer Sgt. Tapio Paajanen are being called heroes for saving the 77-year-old skier?s life.
Both men are humble, but their quick thinking saved the life of Rein Paron, a Naughton man who fell through the ice on Whitefish River.
Purvis was heading to a health and safety meeting with the security firm he works for just before noon when he heard a cry for help.
While his elderly mother called police, Purvis ran into his garage, grabbed some gear he thought might help, and rushed down to the ice. He saw
?nothing but a head with a toque rising out of the water.?
A couple of minutes later Paajanen arrived on the scene.
Purvis can?t swim and was having difficulty moving Paron as the ice kept breaking. Paajanen immediately got involved and ending up falling through the ice.
?Mr. Purvis had an extension cord, but he couldn?t get closer because the ice kept breaking,? said Paajanen, a 33-year veteran of the local police service. ?We both crawled on our hands and knees, but the ice wouldn?t hold us and I told Mr. Purvis to step back.
?Eventually I fell in the water and the ice broke away, but that was a blessing because I could finally reach the man in the water and give him some direct assistance.?
After finding a solid piece of ice, Paajanen managed to hoist the elderly man out of the water, a feat made more difficult by the fact he was still
wearing his skis.
Alone in the water, Purvis returned to help him get out without any significant problems, said Paajanen.
The elderly man was suffering from hypothermia. Ambulance attendants were there within minutes and took the senior to hospital.
Paajanen said the onset of adrenaline is a big reason everything went so smoothly once he arrived on the scene.
In his opinion, Purvis is a hero and he will be recommending him for a citizen?s citation.
?He?s a hero for sure,? he said. ?If not for his actions, there?s no doubt in my mind the man in the water would have died...he was in the water for
some time as he had no strength left once I jumped in.?
Not once during the episode did he feel his own life was in danger, said Paajanen.
?It?s pretty obvious there needed to be two people there and I?m just glad I was there to do what I could,? he said modestly.
Purvis said the first thing he did when he arrived, besides throwing the extension cord in the water, was try to calm Paron.
?I yelled, screamed and swore at him to hang in there because it was obvious he?d been in the water for some time and didn?t have much strength left,? said Purvis. ?I told him help was on the way and not to give up...He listened because he secured the extension cord around his arm and shoulder when I threw it to him.?
He doubts he could have pulled Paron to safety on his own.
?As soon as the police officer arrived, we worked together and got him out,? he said. ?As soon as we pulled my neighbour out and Sgt. Paajanen was also safe, he hugged me and called me a hero. I hugged him back and said he was the hero.
?I?ve worked in health and safety most of my life and I realized my safety was crucial as I can?t swim, so I did the best I could under the
circumstances. However, once I got on the scene, I knew I wasn?t leaving until we saved this guy. What I did was put in my mind that this was my father and I was going to do what I had to do to save his life.?
When told Paajanen will nominate him for a citizen?s award, all Purvis would say is ?cool.?
In his opinion, he couldn?t accept any such award unless Paajanen himself is honoured with a similar award.
?He did a great job,? said Purvis talking about Paajanen.
Paron spent Thursday evening and Friday morning in hospital and could not be reached for comment.