“I owe them my life…” neighbours save trapped man


 It was supposed to be an ordinary Sunday afternoon, July 14.

“We’d just come home from playing golf,” said Walter Reid of Bridlewood Crescent in Iroquois. “I’d noticed that the brakes on my golf cart seemed to be sticking, so I thought I would fix them. While Lyse (partner Lyse Scharfe) made lunch, I put the front of the cart up on a block so  could get underneath to spray the brakes with oil.”

This is the point that an ordinary day turned into a very frightening one for Walter, Lyse and their neighbours Mike and Donna Zeron and Kirk Hunter and Tracey Beckstead-Hunter. 

As Walter lay under the 1,000 pound golf cart, “I reached for something and accidentally hit the accelerator from underneath: the cart suddenly came off the block and ran over me.”

Walter said that, had the machine not somehow caught his arm and rolled him over on his stomach, the full 1,000 pounds would have come straight down on his chest, crushing it immediately. As it was, he was pressed face down, deep into the dirt,  tightly jammed there, unable to speak or move, in terrible pain and slowly being smothered.

Lyse called him from the house, and when he did not answer, she came out. 

“I started screaming right away,” she recalled. “I could not shift the cart at all, and Walter was turning blue.”

Still screaming, she ran next door to the Zeron home, “and burst through their front door.”

Mike Zeron immediately raced over, but he too, could not shift the cart alone. 

“I remembered seeing Kirk (Hunter) out cutting his grass down the street,” Mike said. He leaped into his truck, flew down the street and yelled at Kirk to get in immediately.

“I didn’t completely know what had happened,” Kirk recalled much later. “But I got in right away. Mike drove me to Walter’s so fast I thought we’d go through the garage.”

Donna Zeron and Tracey Beckstead-Hunter, both of whom have taken first aid courses and know CPR, also rushed to the scene. 

“By now,” Walter said quietly, “I was in a really bad way. I remember heavy, heavy pain. Suddenly I know I saw bright lights, and then the pain just stopped. I think now, that for a minute, I might have actually passed away.” 

His condition terrified his rescuers. Walter, they say, was blue down to his shoulders. “His lips and ears were blackish purple, like he’d had a severe beating. We were really afraid he was gone,” Mike recalled.

Zeron and Hunter, with strength they didn’t know they possessed, flat lifted the golf cart off Walter, actually suspending it in air for nearly four minutes while the women grabbed Walter’s legs and dragged him to safety.

Donna immediately started CPR compressions. Suddenly, they heard Walter gasp, and then he began to choke.

“I heard Donna say he’s got a pulse,” Tracey said. “When he began to choke, I said get him into the recovery position. We immediately began talking to him, reassuring him, trying to keep him conscious. He was moaning and couldn’t form words at first.”

At that point, the Iroquois Emergency Fire Rescue vehicle pulled into the Reid driveway, responding quickly to Lyse’s 911 call. “I heard Walter suddenly ask for his phone,” said Mike Zeron, smiling now. “That’s when I began to think maybe everything was going to be alright.”

Trevor Riopelle, Andre Menges, Bill Ewing and Rick Cogdale of the South Dundas Fire Emergency Services “knew just what to do,” said Lyse. 

“What a huge relief it was to see them arrive. They set up oxygen, put on a neck brace and started alert tests.”

Gord and Cheryl Barton, who had just been passing by, also stopped and promptly looked after all the Zeron and Hunter children during the emergency. 

Walter was ultimately transported to the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which has a trauma centre. He suffered three broken ribs and bruising. 

He and Lyse are certain that he would not be alive today had his friends and neighbours not responded so fully to the crisis.

“I can’t thank everybody enough for what they did for me,” Walter Reid said. “They absolutely saved my life. I really wanted to recognize these good neighbours for their quick thinking and for helping me when I was in trouble.”

Incidentally, Walter says that “from now on, I will definitely not be fixing my golf cart myself.” 

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