Man pulls 84-year-old from frigid dockside waters

Senior fell off Campbell River wharf and was lucky weak cries for help detected

Larry Jackson had just finished an early dinner with his wife the night of the Christmas truck parade when he heard a voice he’ll never forget.

As he walked across the wharf with his wife in the dark near Dick’s Fish and Chips, Jackson heard what he thought was a faint cry for help.

“We had just finished dinner, it was dark and there was quite a bit of noise from the truck horns going by and we were just about to go back up the ramp when we heard somebody yell ‘help’. Initially it sounded like somebody screwing around but then we heard the gentleman yell ‘help’ again and you could hear the desperation in his voice,” Jackson said.

It was just past 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 and Jackson and his wife were planning to go watch the truck parade from Robert Ostler Park but the voice stopped them in their tracks.

The problem was it was pitch black and raining hard and Jackson and his wife had a hard time finding the man. After a few minutes, Jackson’s wife thought she spotted some feet.

Jackson himself finally spotted the man in the ocean, holding onto a steel casing around some pylons, a few feet from the dock.

Jackson, who in the past has worked as a lifeguard, got down on his knees and grabbed onto the man’s arms.

“I just knew I wasn’t going to let him sink but I also knew I didn’t have the strength to pull him up the several feet to the dock,” Jackson said.

His wife went back into the restaurant for help and two other men came running out to help.

The three of them managed to pull the man out of the water, who was conscious and talking.

Jackson said the 84-year-old man from Nanaimo was in town visiting his son. He was down at the wharf picking up dinner from Dick’s Fish and Chips and somehow fell into the water.

Jackson believes the man, who used the ramp closest to the ferry terminal, couldn’t see properly in the dark and instead of walking down the wharf, walked right into the water.

Jackson said after the man was pulled from the water, he kept talking about his wife.

“The old guy was worried about his wife,” Jackson said. “He kept saying she was in the car; she was in a grey Mazda.”

Jackson said he walked back up to the parking lot near the long house in Robert Ostler Park and it was by a stroke of luck he found the right car in the dark parking lot which was full of cars because of people coming downtown to watch the truck parade.

Jackson said he knocked on the window of the car but that only seemed to frighten the tiny woman inside.

“I probably looked pretty scary, this big guy with a beard and a hood on, knocking on her car window,” Jackson said. “I asked if she was waiting for her husband and tried to explain that he’d fallen in the water. She finally believed me.”

As Jackson started to take the woman down to her husband, paramedics began to take the man back up to the parking lot.

Jackson said the man appeared to be in okay shape but was taken to hospital as a precaution. He said a police officer who arrived on the scene told him he had saved the older man’s life.

Jackson said it was pure coincidence that he was in the right place at the right time.

Since retiring to Campbell River six years ago, he and his wife have gone out for dinner once a week and each time, they try to go somewhere different.

The couple had been to Dick’s recently but decided to break from tradition and go again because they knew the restaurant was closing soon for the season.

“There were too many coincidences,” Jackson said. “We went for dinner early because of the truck parade, it was just meant to be I guess.

“There was just no one else there to help him. It was kind of an early Christmas present.”