A 70-year-old woman is earning North America-wide recognition and a medal for her bravery in Duncan in 2021.
While other people were standing by, the former Duncan resident rushed into her neighbour’s burning trailer, found him inside and pulled him to safety.
The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission is now acknowledging her life-saving efforts by honouring her with a prestigious award.
On March 6, 2021 Suzanne Fortin dashed into her neighbour’s fully engulfed mobile home in Duncan and pulled him to safety before an explosion ripped through it just moments later.
“I did not think of nothing. I could’ve not sleep with myself at night if I let that man die so I just had to do something,” said Fortin, who formerly went by her husband’s surname Racine at the time.
It happened at the Duncan RV park. Fortin heard an explosion and ran out of her home to find David Munce’s on fire, two doors down with people standing by watching.
“If it wasn’t for her, that man would be dead and I’m very proud of her just having her as a neighbour. Very, very awesome,” said George Cohwell, a witness recalled in the days following the rescue.
Munce’s injuries left him in the hospital for a month. He saw Fortin again once released.
“She saved my life. She took me out of that burning house,” said Munce.
Fortin learned last week, for her actions that day, she will receive a prestigious Carnegie Medal, North America’s highest honour for civilian heroism.
“I was very surprised about all that. It’s special, eh? you don’t expect that. I think that when I went for saving David Munce that was not in my mind. I was just helping someone that was in a bad situation,” said Fortin.
The Carnegie Hero medal is given to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. Just a fraction of those nominated receive it. The foundation will also give her a monetary award.
“If I were to start again I would go again even at the risk of my own life. I think this is what life is all about,” said Fortin.
Fortin has since moved to Quebec to be closer to family. But she hopes this story will help persuade others, if faced with a similar situation, to have courage, step up and help another person in need.