RCMP honor fatal crash responders

The RCMP has honoured nine people for their actions that saved the life of a little girl moments after a tragic Manitoba car wreck.

The RCMP has honoured nine people for their actions that saved the life of a little girl moments after a tragic Manitoba car wreck.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott handed out commendations for bravery and certificates of appreciation during a ceremony in Winnipeg on Thursday afternoon.

Each of the nine played a role in responding to an Oct. 12, 2007 multi-vehicle crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Headingley.

Two of the vehicles involved became engulfed with flames.

Elliott said RCMP Const. Alfred Lavallee demonstrated outstanding courage by trying twice to pull people trapped in one of the vehicles to safety.

As he did this, Warrant Officer Shaun Spence and Sgt. Joseph Penman, each of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, tried to open the burning vehicle's doors and free the people inside.

Master Warrant Officer Hamish Seggie, also a Royal Rifle, helped Herman Zarbl and Blair Hockin as they all ignored the flames and began tearing apart the dashboard of the burning vehicle by hand, according to a synopsis of the incident provided by RCMP.

Joseph Bouliane helped fight the fire and aided in the rescue of the young girl.

As the fire began to spread throughout the vehicle, "Mr. Bouliane, without thought to his own safety, remained with the driver until finally forced back by the intense heat and flames."

Shielded girl from possible explosion

Zarbl was the person who noticed the little girl standing near one of the burning vehicles and whisked her away from the scene and into a nearby ditch. Fearing an explosion, Zarbl shielded the girl with his body before passing her off to a bystander's care, according to RCMP.

Zarbl rushed back to the scene and began trying to remove the lone person in the other burning vehicle, tearing bits of dashboard out by hand.

Hockin also ran over to where Zarbl was and was able to free the person and perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until paramedics arrived, RCMP said.

Elliott also presented certificates of appreciation to two others:

Hockin's wife, Jacquie, assisted him with CPR efforts and was also singled out for her efforts to manage the chaotic scene.

Finally, Abebe Yohannes was commended for his help in trying to rescue the child from the burning vehicle and for his firefighting efforts.