A homeless Winnipeg man is being hailed as a hero after pulling a teenager from the Red River, which is still swift and swollen from flood waters.
The teen fell from the Provencher Bridge Sunday afternoon after he and a group of other boys were running across the bridge, dodging traffic and hopping over the railings between the eastbound and westbound lanes.
'He was panicking. He was pushing me under water. That's when I had to kind of belt him in the head and say, 'Hey don't, otherwise we both aren't going to make it.' —Faron Hall
The teen then tried to leap across a gap from the traffic lanes to the adjacent pedestrian bridge, but didn't make it.
Faron Hall and his friend Wayne Spence heard the screams from their makeshift home on the riverbank.
Hall threw off his backpack and jumped into the cold water. Swimming against the current, he screamed at the boy not to give up, he told CBC News in an exclusive interview.
"I just dove into the river and I had to swim all the way over there on an angle, 'cause the current was carrying him downstream," Hall said.
After fighting the current, Hall had to struggle with the boy.
"He was panicking. He was pushing me under water," he said. "That's when I had to kind of belt him in the head and say, 'Hey don't, otherwise we both aren't going to make it.'"
Hall then told the boy, "Turn over on your back. Turn over on your back. I know it's cold. I'll get us to shore," he said.
"He kept kicking his feet. He said, 'I'm cold. I'm cold.' I dragged him right here," Hall said, pointing to a spot at the edge of the river.
Marion Willis was walking on the bridge when she witnessed the event. She said the teen "took a flying leap" in an attempt to jump from the traffic bridge.
"He went down with such a force that we all thought this is not a rescue, this is a recovery," she said. "We actually heard him hit something before he hit the water."
"I thought he died, too," said Spence.
Meal and a warm bath
Willis was so moved by the actions of the homeless men that she opened her home to them. She gave Spence a meal and clean clothes, and let him have a warm bath.
Hall was unable to enjoy the hospitality because he was in the hospital being checked over by doctors.
The teen was also taken to hospital by an ambulance that had been called by other witnesses. His condition is not known.
Hall said he hopes to meet the teen, while Willis said she hopes to help the men find a better place to live.