The man who pulled two children out of a fiery crash in northern Alberta has received an international award for bravery.
Dion Lefebvre, the owner-operator of Westlock Movers from Westlock Alta., is one of only three Canadians to be given the Carnegie Award for Civilian Heroism.
Lefebvre was driving a van to Fort McMurray in April 2012 when he was passed by a pickup truck. To his horror, the truck then smashed head-on into another pickup.
When Lefebvre pulled over, he said he could hear the cries of three-year-old Timothy Wheaton coming from the burning wreckage.
Using his first aid training, Lefebvre and two others managed to pull Timmy from the car. Lefebvre also rescued 11-year-old Faith Kondusky-Sennett from the second truck which had burst into flames. She later died in hospital.
Timmy’s parents and brother were all killed in the crash, which left only one other survivor.
The crash renewed calls for the province to twin Highway 63 – a cause Lefebvre has been a vocal advocate for.
Focusing on the survivors, improving highway safety
For Lefebvre, memories and images from the crash have never left. But rather than think about the people he was not able to save, Lefebvre, who has stayed in touch with both survivors, say he has chosen to focus on the positive in the years since the crash.
“I was somewhat surprised, I guess,” he said of being told he had won the award.
To this day, he doesn’t buy into the idea he’s a hero.
“I think there’s lots of people who would get involved, of course, there are some people who can’t or won’t,” he said, adding that he was simply doing what he hoped any other person would do if it was his own kids in the crash.
After the crash, Timmy, now 5, moved in with his grandfather Ronald Thompson in Gander, N.L., where he just finished kindergarten.
Thompson said his grandson is doing well, but doesn’t like to talk about the crash.
Thompson said he hopes to bring Timmy back to Fort McMurray sometime to visit other family members.
When they’re in Alberta, they are also hoping to see Lefebvre again – something the Westlock man said he is really looking forward to.
“Seeing little Timmy is a big positive,” he said.
Listen to Lefebvre and Thompson's full interview from Edmonton AM