Thursday, October 23, 2014

Laker player helps with brave rescue

Kevin Kurm became well-known by Fort Frances Lakers’ opponents the past two seasons for having a knack at getting under their skin.
Now the Thunder Bay product unintentionally has made a name for himself in helping with a dangerous rescue that easily could have gone horribly wrong.

Kurm, 19, and friends Eric Burton and Andrew Crupi were en route to Fort Frances from Thunder Bay late Friday afternoon for a stay at another friend’s cabin for the weekend.
After filling their gas tank in Atikokan, the trio headed west before coming upon a nightmarish scene on Highway 11 just five minutes later.
“We came around the bend and saw debris and glass from some taillights,” Kurm recalled.
“We then [saw] one car on the left-hand side of the road facing the ditch, and then a car flipped over in the ditch on the right-hand side and it was smoking,” he added.
“I said, ‘Boys, we’ve got to check this out.’”
When they stopped, the group first headed towards the smoke-covered car.
“Suddenly we hear screaming from inside,” said Kurm.
The trio raced down the side of the ditch and found a woman and her daughter, whom Kurm described as being younger than 10, on the ground outside of the vehicle.
“The mother couldn’t walk so we helped them both up to the side of the highway,” Kurm said.
“Suddenly, the daughter starts screaming that their golden retriever is still in the car.”
Kurm and Burton sprinted back down to the vehicle, which had caught fire by this point.
“It looked like it was going to blow so I told Eric to hurry up,” Kurm recounted.
“He opened up the latch and the dog jumped out and ran down the highway . . . I ended up having to chase it for a kilometre.
“It was really traumatized,” he added.
Kurm and Burton went back up to the highway so Kurm could carry out his dog-catching responsibilities.
“As soon as we got up there, it blew up—boom!” exclaimed Kurm.
“It was only 15 or 20 feet away from us.”
Fortunately, no one sustained any injuries from the blast.
Crupi, meanwhile, dialed 9-1-1 and then instructed Kurm and Burton to check on the occupant of the other vehicle, a 49-year-old Fort Frances man.
“He was pretty disoriented and mumbling, and he couldn’t move his legs because everything was enclosed around him,” Kurm described.
“We got him out.”
With several smaller explosions occurring the longer the other car burned, Kurm and Burton put the two females in the back of their car and the man in the back of another vehicle that had stopped to offer help.
Emergency services and the OPP arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, with both drivers being airlifted to hospital in Thunder Bay with serious injuries.
“They did a great job looking after those people,” lauded Kurm, referring to the work done by the fire department, ambulance staff, and police officers.
Kurm shrugged off any descriptions of his actions and his friends as those of heroes.
“We were in the right place at the right time,” he stated modestly.
“A couple of minutes later and we would have been too late,” added Kurm, who received a call over the weekend from the woman’s husband to express his gratitude for their efforts.
“It was definitely a different experience and I’m just happy it ended up being better than what it could have turned out,” Kurm said.
“Thank God everyone was OK.”

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