A woman who raced to save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s life said in his final moments she told him he was loved, brave and good.
Barbara Winters, an Ottawa lawyer, told CBC Radio’s As It Happens that she stopped on her way to a meeting to photograph the two soldiers guarding the National War Memorial — now known to be Branden Stevenson and Cirillo of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada regiment in Hamilton. Moments later, about a half-block away, she heard the shots. Winters went back.
'"I said just think what you were doing when this happened. Just think, you were standing at the cenotaph. You were honouring others. Just think of how proud that would make your family. Your parents are so proud of you. Your family must love you so much."' - Barbara Winters
"I think it’s human nature to run towards somebody to help them," Winters told the CBC's Carol Off.
Winters is a former naval reservist who had spent some of her time working as a medical assistance. When she reached Cirillo, she helped a group of other bystanders as they performed CPR on the wounded 24-year-old corporal.
"It was a team effort. When I got there, there was a nurse there already and the corporal who was with the two honour guards at the time," Winters said, adding two others protected the injured man’s head and feet.
While the rescuers pushed on Cirillo’s wounds and attempted CPR, Winters kept talking to Cirillo.
"I told him he was loved. And that he was brave. And that he was a good man," said Winters in tears.
"I said just think what you were doing when this happened. Just think, you were standing at the cenotaph. You were honouring others. Just think of how proud that would make your family. Your parents are so proud of you. Your family must love you so much."
She said "Your military family loves you. Look at these people, we're all here helping you. We're all trying to do what we can for you. We all love you."
Winters said it was unclear if the message got through, as Cirillo wasn’t speaking, but even as the paramedics arrived she kept speaking to him, telling him about all the people that were there to help and how loved he was.
Cirillo was rushed to hospital, but died of his injuries.
Above all, Winters said, she wants the family to know that Cirillo wasn’t alone in his final moments.
"The people that were working on him … they were all just there for him," Winters said.
"There was nothing else in the world for us, the five of us, when we were there, except for that man."
Winters said she knows there’s "no comfort" in this situation, but if there was, she hopes the Cirillo family can take some solace in the fact the attempts made to save him.