Newsmakers 2012: The right stuff -

Newsmakers 2012: The right stuff

A hero in a Hummer and other lifesavers in the past year

Murray Close/Lionsgate/CP

Krush Barrier

Say what you will about the Hummer, that ungainly beast of a motor vehicle can be a lifesaver in the right hands. On Aug. 31, Darrell Krushelnicki, a 46-year-old energy-company worker in Fort Nelson, B.C., sacrificed his 2006 Hummer H3, at no small risk to himself, to stop a speeding car from slamming into four young pedestrians on an Edmonton crosswalk.

It was 4:30 p.m., and Krushelnicki, in Edmonton to visit his family, was exiting the Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre parking lot. Traffic was stopped for three teens and a three-year-old child on a crosswalk with amber lights flashing. Krushelnicki was edging the Hummer out onto the road to make a left turn when he noticed a grey Pontiac speeding down the street, the driver allegedly talking on a cellphone. Krushelnicki edged out further, but it was clear the driver was oblivious to the kids on the road.

“He was accelerating, and I had to make a decision, I felt, and that was to stop the vehicle,” he later explained. He gritted his teeth, braced for impact and drove directly into the path of the car to shield the young people. There was a loud bang, a clatter of debris, and the two vehicles skidded to a stop just feet away from the stunned foursome, who had been unaware they were even at risk. “If it wasn’t for that guy, I’m pretty sure I would be dead,” a shaken 15-year-old Janice Marett told a CBC interviewer. “He could have died if it hit the wrong way. He risked his life for four kids he didn’t even know. It’s amazing.”

Both drivers walked away from the crash shaken but with no serious injuries. The driver of the Pontiac faces a charge of dangerous driving. “Darrell’s actions certainly prevented serious injury or death to the four children,” an Edmonton Police Department report noted. “He came out of the crash with a loose tooth and a mangled car.” His vehicle was a writeoff. Krushelnicki, whose nickname is Krush, is adjusting to a new moniker: the “Hummer Hero.”

On Nov. 12, he was among a group of citizens and law-enforcement officers honoured in Edmonton by the Royal Canadian Humane Association for acts of courage. He was presented with the Bronze Medal for Bravery by Lieutenant-Governor Donald Ethell. Surrounded by cameras and microphones, he called the honour “very overwhelming and very surprising.” He used the event to stress that no text or phone call is worth the risk of an accident or a death. He also let it slip he will be shopping for a replacement vehicle. A good Hummer, apparently, is hard to find.

A Breath Of Fresh Air

Her campaign for organ donors ( won support from Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres, but it’s the incandescent spirit of Hélène Campbell, 21, of Ottawa, that drew thousands to the cause. She underwent a double lung transplant in April. Seven weeks later, she was speaking with DeGeneres from Toronto, showing off her footwork: “I can dance and laugh again.”

Two Brave Souls With Heart

Standing between 75-year-old Jack Vaughn and the transplant heart he needed were 120 km and the wrath of hurricane Sandy. Two young emergency medics, Tara King and Cory Allen, volunteered for the death-defying drive to Philadelphia, where Vaughn’s transplant went flawlessly.

A Lesson In Courage

All 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai wanted was an education for the girls of Pakistan. For that she was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin, but his effort to stop her crusade generated worldwide outrage. Malala is being treated in England; there’s hope of a near full recovery. “When she fell,” her proud father, Ziauddin, said, “the world stood.”

A Hard Call

When the roof collapsed at Algo Centre Mall in Elliot Lake, Ont., killing Doloris Perizzolo and trapping Lucie Aylwin, fire, police and emergency medics clawed at a perilous mountain of debris. “Things are moving and shifting, but we just kept going,” firefighter Adam Vance told Maclean’s. With rescuers’ lives at risk, fire chief Paul Officer reluctantly ordered a halt. It was the right call. Even with search-and-rescue experts and heavy equipment it took more than 90 hours to safely reach the bodies of the women.