From left, Carnegie Hero Ryan Scott McIlwain, 17, of Douro-Dummer, Ont., shakes the hand of Provincial Parliament member Dave Smith, while Douro-Dummer Mayor J. Murray Jones looks on during a ceremony in which Jones presented Ryan with the Carnegie Medal.
“He (Carnegie Hero Ryan McIlwain) is certainly considered a hero in many people’s eyes. We’re going to recognize that fact tonight,” Jones said. “And what a great thing for a young kid like that to do. We’re very proud of him.”
McIlwain was just 16 when he responded to a man who was struggling to stay afloat in the Otonabee River in Lakefield, Ont.
While on his lunch break from his part-time job as a grocery clerk, Ryan spotted the man who was calling for help.
Ryan removed his outer clothing and shoes, entered the 65-degree water and swam about 100 feet to the man.
He directed the man, who was panicking, to lie on his back, and Ryan grasped him around the chest.
With one free arm, Ryan backstroked and used the current to help tow the man about 150 feet to wadable water downstream.
There, someone assisted Ryan and the man out of the water.
The man was taken to the hospital. Ryan was nearly exhausted and cold, but he was not injured.
“[This] is a lot more than I expected for doing anything,” Ryan told a local news reporter before the Aug. 6 ceremony, held during the Douro-Dummer council meeting.
Smith represents the district of Peterborough-Kawartha.