Neighbours hail farmer as hero after he uses turban to pull drowning teenager to safety

Avtar Hothi pulled a girl to safety Saturday evening, after neighbours alerted him that she was drowning in the Thompson River.

KAMLOOPS - Nicole Mulcahy and Betty Timuss were having dinner in their home along Heffley Creek Saturday evening when they heard what sounded like two animals fighting.

The first time they heard it, they didn't think much of it. But then they heard it again. This time it was clearly a girl yelling "I can't swim! Help!"

Timuss got her binoculars out and spotted the girl floating in the North Thompson River, only her head visible. Mulcahy ran across her back yard onto the dirt road in front of their home, where she saw her neighbours Avtar and Paul Hothi.

"I'm running as fast as I possibly can with no shoes on," Mulcahy said.

She whistled for the men and told them someone was drowning. Without hesitation, Avtar, Paul and four workers from a farm next door ran down a path and to the river bank where they had clear sight of the girl in the water.

Avtar, a Sikh, thought on his feet, and took his turban off to help pull the girl in.

"He threw his turban in. It's probably about 10 or 12 feet," Mulcahy said. "And then he pulled her in."

Timuss was still inside, gathering blankets and a skipping rope in case the girl floated down closer to her.

"You don't think in that situation," Timuss said. "All you're doing is trying to save that person in the water."

Timuss and Mulcahy say Avtar is a hard working man, who is always out in the fields of his farm. 

"I said to him 'That's really using your head, Avtar'," Mulcahy said with a laugh. "Everybody pitched in, it's such a good community out here."

The girl was pulled to safety with no injuries other than being a little cold. Timuss wrapped her up in a blanket and Avtar drove her home.

Betty Timuss points to where they spotted a girl's head bobbing in the water.
Betty Timuss points to where they spotted a girl's head bobbing in the water.

– This story was updated at 10:24 a.m. Friday, March 24, 2017, to correct the spelling of the word 'clearly' from 'clearl'.

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