In a room full of people who give back to the community Chris and Terry Dewsbury and Randy Nauta stood out.
They were among the people honoured by Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper at his annual Community Appreciation Lunch Saturday.
A year ago, the trio helped to find a neighbour who had disappeared on one of the coldest nights in memory but their story has largely remained untold. Napper himself had only heard the story a few days before the event and hastily added their names to the honour roll at the last minute.
Last January, the Dewsbury’s arrived at the home in Camlachie after work to find their dogs Ginger and Bowzer gone. It wasn’t unusual. Their 60 year-old neighbour walked the pair every afternoon while they were away. Chris thought she had simply taken them for a later walk.
But when the neighbour (who didn’t want her name revealed) didn’t return with the dogs after they had their dinner, the pair donned their warmest winter clothes and set out into the -28 C night to find her.
Chris says when they found the neighbours footprints “they had been filled in by the blowing snow.” The couple also found a hole in the ice where they presumed the neighbour fell through.
“It was about 45 minutes later we thought we heard the dogs barking,” Dewsbury told The Independent. “We called them and they came. Then we said ‘Where is she?’…and they lead us right to her.”
The neighbour lay in the snow, unconscious with one boot off and signs of frostbite on her hands and feet. Her face was fine; wet from where the dogs had licked it during the ordeal.
They’d also tried to keep her warm. “You could see in the snow where they had been lying beside her.”
Dewsbury’s wife dialed 9-11. When it became difficult to explain exactly where in the field off Egermont Road they were, they called their neighbour, Randy Nauta.
After he figured out where the Dewsburys were by directing them to flash their phone lights at a him, Nauta used his knowledge of the area to lead first responders right to the area.
Paramedics told the trio after the neighbour was taken to hospital that her core temperature had dropped to about 27 degrees and she had only minutes to live.
It took about three months for the woman to recover from the near-death experience and she prefers not to talk about what happened that day.
However Dewsbury says considering how dire the situation was she has recovered well with only one finger being permanently affected by the cold.
The Dewsbury’s and Nauta were recently recognized by the OPP for their fast action. And Napper was happy to recognize their efforts as well. “This wouldn’t have happened in a big city…this shows again that in Plympton-Wyoming, you look after your neighbours.”
And while the trio was pleased to be recognized, Nauta says someone else deserves the credit.
“The real heroes are those two dogs out there who stuck with her,” he told the 250 people at the event adding looking for their neighbour was the natural thing to do.
“I don’t think anyone would have done differently in Plympton-Wyoming.”