If one incident stands out for West Shore RCMP Cpl. Bryson Hill in his career to date, it’s the day in 2012 when he helped free a young woman from a submerged, overturned car soon enough to allow paramedics to miraculously revive her.
Hill and fellow rescuers Const. Melissa Gorman and Const. Harrison Teed were among 87 police officers whose acts of bravery under extreme pressure were recognized Thursday at the 34th annual B.C. Police Honours Night at Government House.
This week Hill recalled the scenario on West Burnside Road, and the fact the young woman had been upside down in a water-filled culvert more than 15 minutes by the time he was able to pull her through the back window. The group of rescuers, including Gorman, Teed and fellow RCMP officer Max Fossum, were waist deep in chilly water and had lifted the vehicle up enough for Hill to reach in and grab her.
“Every human, all of us, would love to have an opportunity to save a life,” he said.
“We are in a job where we are fortunate that we have been chosen by the community to be the ones they call when they need that help. There are times when it doesn’t have a good ending, but this was one where the fortune was on everyone’s side and she survived.”
The girl, who was thought to have perished in the water, was back at school four months after the crash and has since made a full recovery, Hill said, adding that’s what makes the effort worthwhile.
Hill, Gorman and Teed, who is now with the RCMP Musical Ride, were each given an Award for Meritorious Service for their efforts.
West Shore RCMP Reserve Const. Scott Rothermel received an Award of Valour for his actions in 2012 attempting to save two dogs and potentially people from a burning family home on Kelly Road in Colwood.
“It’s one of those few moments in a person’s career where it will stand out forever,” he said. “I remember everything, from arriving on scene to talking with neighbours and making that decision to go into the home.”
One of the dogs came to him immediately and was able to get out, at Rothermel’s urging. The other was not so lucky, but the officer did ultimately determine no more people were inside.
Rothermel, community liaison officer for School District 62 and a summertime police officer, called the award “a huge honour” and one he’ll remember as long as he continues putting on the uniform.