Teen who fell from bridge calls antics stupid, praises homeless rescuer

A teen saved from the Red River by a homeless man said Thursday that it was stupid of him to try and jump between platforms on a Winnipeg bridge.

A teen saved from the Red River by a homeless man said Thursday that it was stupid of him to try and jump between platforms on a Winnipeg bridge.

Joseph Mousseau, 19, ended up in the swift-moving Red River, still churning and swollen from floodwaters, under the Provencher bridge on Sunday.

According to witnesses, Mousseau and a group of other boys were running across the bridge, dodging traffic and hopping over the railings between the eastbound and westbound lanes.

Mousseau then attempted to leap across a gap between the traffic lanes and the adjacent pedestrian bridge. As he fell, his back and an ankle struck a concrete support beam, prompting Mousseau to scream out as he plunged into the water.

The noise caught the attention of Faron Hall, a homeless man who was sitting on the riverbank with his friend, Wayne Spence. Hall jumped into the cold water, swimming on an angle against the current.

He calmed the panicked boy and pulled him back to shore, where Spence helped them out.

"He was saying stuff like, 'Are you nuts?' I said, 'No, I was just being stupid. It was an accident.' He was like, 'It's OK, man,' and we just laid there until the paramedics arrived," Mousseau said.

That was the last time Mousseau saw Hall. Both were taken to hospital, treated and released.

Hall has received national media attention this week for his bravery. Mousseau had seen the media coverage but at first didn't seek publicity himself. He has since decided it is the best way to get the message to Hall about how thankful he is.

"That he came to save me — he didn't think twice — I'm thankful for that," Mousseau said. "I would like to meet him again. I'd like to talk about the events — thank him again."

Stepdaughter reunites with Hall

The incident has also reconnected Hall with his stepdaughter, Christy Assin.

She last saw him about three months ago and had no idea when she would see him again until Hall's name and image started appearing all over the local and national news.

"At first, I was like, is this the right person that I was reading about? And then I saw the picture and everything like that," she said. "I was stunned, and I felt very honoured."

Assin told CBC News it's difficult to have a father who is homeless and not knowing where he is or how he's doing.

She hopes current events might change things for Hall. The praise Hall has received has given him a renewed look on life, said Assin.

"I feel that they were both meant to save each other. That's how I take it," she said.

She tried to get in touch with her stepdad Tuesday, but he was enjoying a rare sleep in a soft bed.

The bed was provided by Marion Willis, a woman who was walking on the bridge the day of the rescue and witnessed the drama unfold. Following the incident, she gave Spence a meal and clean clothes and let him take a hot bath at her house.

She offered the same to Hall, but he couldn't take her up on it at the time because he had to go to hospital to be checked out. On Tuesday, Hall accepted a renewed offer of hospitality from Willis.

He told reporters on Wednesday that he slept "a good 13, 14 hours" and missed the call from Assin. She had tracked him down at Willis's house through the media reports about the events.

A hero's day

Hall was resting up for a hero's day on Wednesday, which started early with interviews on TV and radio, then lunch with the mayor and his staff. Following that, Hall was whisked to the banks of the Red River where the rescue took place.

There, Mayor Sam Katz presented him with the Mayor's Medal of Valour along with a pair of season tickets to the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team, a Goldeyes jacket and a cap. Katz is also president and majority owner of the team.

He spoke with a frenzy of reporters and was then shuttled over to the Manitoba Legislative Building, where Eric Robinson, the province's acting aboriginal affairs minister, introduced Hall during question period.

"To you, Mr. Hall, on behalf of the province, for being the face of courage, humility and compassion that makes this province great," Robinson said during a brief ceremony, prompting a round of applause from the politicians in attendance.