VERNON - Ryan Winkler says he was just the guy who happened to drive by on that particular morning; police call him a life saver.
Winkler, 36, was on his way to work around 4 a.m. when he saw a truck parked on the side of North Westside Road. The windows were taped up, the engine running, and a hose ran from the exhaust to the inside of the car. Winkler recognized it was a suicide attempt and quickly phoned 9-1-1.
“I couldn’t see, the windows were so fogged. I didn’t know if he was alive. I didn’t know what was happening,” Winkler says.
With dispatch on the line, he was told to break into the vehicle.
“Of course, the fear is, ‘Is this guy dead?’ That was the worst part of it,” Winkler says. “Part of me didn’t really want to do it, didn’t want to see this dead guy in there.”
He grabbed a hammer and smashed out the window, causing the man to wake up. He yelled at Winkler to leave him alone, and drove off.
“I was told they found him,” Winkler says. “Last I heard he was in the hospital that day.”
He hasn’t had any further contact with the man whose life he saved, but hopes the best for him.
“I hope his family understands and he gets the help he needs. I was just the guy that went by that day,” he says.
Vernon RCMP Insp. Jim McNamara thanked Winkler on behalf of the detachment at a ceremony today, Oct. 13.
“Your actions saved the life of a person in crisis,” McNamara says. “Many people would not involve themselves in such a manner, and had you not the result may have been tragic for the individual involved. Thank you for stepping up for your fellow man.”
Winkler had mostly forgotten about the incident until police awarded him the certificate of appreciation, but there’s one thing he’ll never forget from the experience.
“It was an eye opener that day. You get stressed out in life and think you have bad days, but I don’t think I’d ever have that bad a day. Hope I never have that bad a day, and him too,” Winkler says.
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