'Good-hearted' cyclists rescue elderly man who fell in Ottawa River
Man was fortunate cyclists came by when they did, paramedics say
An 83-year-old man was rescued from the Ottawa River by a pair of sharp-eyed cyclists after he slipped and fell in while feeding the birds Saturday morning, paramedics say.
Shortly after 11 a.m., Ottawa Fire Services received reports that a man had fallen into the water along the Sir George Étienne Cartier Parkway near Shefford Road.
Firefighters and Paramedics bring elderly man up embankment using ladder. Man had been rescued by cyclist and brought to shore. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ottnews?src=hash">#ottnews</a>—@MessierOnFire
Elderly man had been drifting into current and was about 20 ft from shore when cyclist reached him. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ottnews?src=hash">#Ottnews</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hero?src=hash">#Hero</a>—@MessierOnFire
Mark Wheeler and Alyssa Mellon were cycling by when they spotted the man in the river.
"I noticed his head poking out of the water," said Wheeler. "Thought it was a pretty brave guy, swimming in October."
Dragged out by current
Wheeler and Mellon quickly realized something was wrong, so they circled back and called out to the man — now floating about 10 metres off the shore, they said, and being dragged along by the current — to see if he was all right.
When the man replied that he wasn't, Wheeler descended a rocky embankment from the bike path into in the water and swam out to him, while his wife stayed on the shore and called 911.
As a group of people waited with Mellon, ready to help, Wheeler managed to get the man back to dry ground.
"He was cold, he couldn't stand up for himself," said Wheeler.
Fire crews arrived and helped bring Wheeler and the man up the approximately four-and-a-half-metre embankment back to the bike path.
They were both treated for hypothermia and the 83-year-old man was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition, said Rob Mitchell, superintendent of operations with the Ottawa Paramedic Service.
Had Wheeler and Mellon not cycled by at that moment, things could've turned out much differently, Mitchell said.
"Given his age, he's quite fortunate someone saw him go in when he did, very fortunate that some good-hearted bystanders were nearby," he said.
Mellon said she and her husband are hoping the man fully recovers.
"We do really hope that he's going to be okay," she said. "And that he keeps getting to feed the birds."