British Columbia·Point of View

The kindness of strangers: Pulling young children out of van crushed in windstorm

This week's story took place nearly four years ago on the North Shore when Grant Chang was driving with his children on a particularly windy day.

Do you have a story about the kindness of strangers? Get in touch with The Early Edition

Grant Chang's children were between the ages of one and six when a tree crushed the van they were riding in. (Grant Chang)

CBC Radio One's The Early Edition is asking listeners to share their stories of kindness from strangers for a series that runs on Thursday mornings.

This week's story took place nearly four years ago on the North Shore when Grant Chang was driving with his children on a particularly windy day.

Dear strangers,

I never got your names or had a chance to say thank you.

We met in the middle of a windstorm at the end of August 2015, when I was driving home after a day on the North Shore with my children.

It was incredibly windy — the sidewalks and curb lanes along our route home were closed because of fallen trees and tree branches were flying around.

I was driving really slowly because we had just replaced the windscreen on our van and I was worried about getting another crack in it.

Just as we were getting on to the highway ramp, I heard a loud bang.

At first, I thought maybe someone had rear-ended us, because we were driving so slowly. I got out of the van — but there was no one behind us.

Instead, there was a giant tree sitting on the roof of the van.

The third row of the Honda Odyssey van was completely destroyed and the roof was wedged into the headrest of the back seats. The children had been sitting in the middle row. (Grant Chang)

I could hear the kids crying, but when I tried to get to them the door wouldn't open, because the van's frame was so badly bent.

A police cruiser was passing nearby and stopped, blocking the road behind us to prevent any cars from hitting us. The police officer called for help.  

I continued to try to get to my children.

I don't usually panic but I was almost in tears that day. All of a sudden, you two appeared out of nowhere and asked what was happening.

One of you, the guy — I could tell you worked out, your arms were probably double the size of mine. You pulled on the door a few times and managed to open it enough to squeeze the kids out.

Grant Chang says that every time he hears about a windstorm in the news, he thinks about that day. (Grant Chang)

My four-year-old was closest to the door, and you handed him to me.

He was just standing there crying, not answering if he was OK, as I checked him all over. It was terrifying, the scariest moment of my life.

You pulled out my one-year-old and helped my six-year-old escape his booster seat. While I checked the children one by one, you and the woman you were with — I assumed your girlfriend —  looked after the others and calmed them down.

An ambulance showed up and, too late, I realized you'd disappeared. The two of you did everything like pros and then walked away.

Even though it's almost four years later, it still bothers me that I never got your names or expressed my gratitude for your kindness. So if you read this: Thank you.

Yours,

Grant Chang

If you have a story about the kindness of strangers, e-mail The Early Edition at earlyed@cbc.ca.

With files from The Early Edition

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