Air Tindi crash survivor/rescuer to get bravery award
'I could hear her moaning…' Sheldon Catholique recalls. 'That's how I knew she was alive'
Sheldon Catholique is getting a new pair of pants hemmed before he heads to the airport to catch a plane.
“I feel nervous flying halfway across the country to get an award,” says Sheldon Catholique, “and I feel grateful. Happy I’m still here, and for Bernice and her family.”
Catholique is on his way to Ottawa to receive a Medal of Bravery from the Governor General for his role in saving the life of Bernice Marlowe after their Air Tindi flight crashed near Lutsel K’e in 2011.
“You just gotta face your fears and everything’ll be fine,” he says of his upcoming flight.
Catholique describes the plane crash nearly three years ago as “a very bad nightmare.”
He only remembers part of what happened that day in October.
The sharp odour of fuel, and the fear that at any moment, the badly damaged plane might explode.
The impact was sudden and violent.
“As soon as we hit the cliff, we dropped 400 feet, and then we rolled.”
The pilot, Mathew Bromley, and another passenger, Tim Harris, were killed instantly.
Catholique says Marlowe, also from Lutsel K’e and someone he’d known most of his life, was in the seat next to him.
“I could hear her moaning…” he recalls. “That's how I knew she was alive.”
Catholique says there was enough adrenaline going through his body, that he decided to take Marlowe out of the plane, even though he himself had a shattered pelvis and a bone in his arm was exposed.
Using one hand, he managed to haul Marlowe out of the emergency exit by her clothes and onto the wing of the plane.
“My hand was starting to bleed, so I grabbed my belt and put it around my arm, tied that up because I thought it was gonna blow.”
He dragged Marlowe, who also had many broken bones, to a spot a safe distance from the plane and tried to keep her awake.
“I just kept on talking to her the whole time, while we were waiting for rescue.”
Rescuers took five and a half hours to arrive.
Catholique says he stayed focused by thinking of his family and his spouse Amanda, Marlowe's sister.
He will be honoured along with 42 other Canadians at the ceremony in Ottawa this Thursday.