South Slocan hero Chris O’Gorman attended a Lifesaving Society awards ceremony on March 28

South Slocan hero receives award

Chris O’Gorman was honoured at event in Vancouver for Kootenay River rescue of 84-year-old Glade resident.

When South Slocan hero Chris O’Gorman took the stage at the Lifesaving Society’s awards ceremony in Vancouver on March 28, his three friends burst into raucous applause and hooting.

“It was a pretty formal event, and they led us in by bagpipe from one room to the other,” O’Gorman, who works as a cab driver locally, told the Star. “All the RCMP were in scarlet. People were pretty well-behaved but my Kootenay friends, when I took the stage, were all ‘woooo, yeah!’ and that lightened up the whole tone.”

He said that moment of levity inspired the audience to noisily applaud the other award recipients, which included an entire team of breast cancer survivors from the Yukon canoe group Paddlers Abreast.

“Those women were all out rowing, and they ended up hearing someone drowning so they all paddled over and rescued him,” said O’Gorman admiringly.

He said the other award recipients included “nine-year-old boys to 60-year-old men.”

“That was my favourite part of the whole thing, meeting all the other people and hearing the stories. It was so inspiring.”

O’Gorman’s own story is no less inspiring. Featured on the Star’s front page last summer after he used his own canoe and a makeshift paddle to save an 84-year-old Glade resident, the event made him a local legend.

The Lifesaving Society award is meant to honour civilians rescuers. O’Gorman’s rescue was particularly impressive because he returned the man safely home before emergency personnel even arrived.

O’Gorman brought along three friends for his coast trip — his first in years. And though he’s best known to the community for his Davey Crockett-style fringed shirt, for the event he was decked out in a brand-new, never-worn suit from Baker Street Menswear. With his hair neatly combed, he looked almost unrecognizable.

“I don’t normally dress like that, but the guys at Baker Street Menswear did a good job of fitting and tailoring it. I looked pretty slick.”

A local author working on a manuscript about heroism recently contacted the Star for permission to include our reporting in his book, because he said O’Gorman exemplifies selfless heroism.

And though he’s thrilled to be recognized, O’Gorman maintains his heroic action was the least he could do.

“I read something unrelated to my story, this quote: ‘It’s more about being human than being a hero.’ I thought ‘wow, that’s so right.’”

Thinking back to the moment he realized the man was in trouble and needed help, he said he didn’t have any other choice.

“In the moment you don’t think about other things. You just realize this is a serious situation, this is no laughing matter. I literally broke into a sprint. When you see another human being in trouble, you act.”

The rescued man now has the paddle O’Gorman used during the rescue mounted over his patio at home.

Just Posted

Leafs add 2 players at KIJHL trade deadline

Nelson also traded defenceman Tyson Soobotin to Castlegar

VIDEO: Kootenay drug users fight stigma with video series

The multi-part series from ANKORS is meant to align with the goals of the Nelson Fentanyl Task Force

Nelson police warn of counterfeit money in city

The department says it has received multiple reports of fake Canadian and U.S. cash

Nelson library asks city for 2 per cent funding increase

The increase would cover inflation, increased use, stagnant provincial funding, and a negotiated wage increase

Trail cannabis shop gets green light from province

The Higher Path hopes to open doors in next couple of weeks

VIDEO: Monday Roundup

The Star’s weekly news roundup

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read