Gov. Gen to award Castlegar boy for bravery
A 12-year-old Castlegar boy is being honoured for bravery by the Governor General after saving his father’s life when he was just 10. Cody Sloot will be accepting his award this year after a harrowing incident in 2007. Sloot’s father, John, explains.
“It was July 7, a week after Cody turned 10,” he said. “We were out on a really backwoods quad trail – to get there, you have to boat across Arrow Lake, then take a forestry road up to it. It’s more used by locals around Renata/Deer Park, because it’s so hard to get to.”
The father/son duo headed out for an overnight ATV trip and was crossing a portion of the trail when they encountered a log fall that made them turn around and seek a different route.
“We were on a trail cut out of a hillside, cutting across the slope. Cody was walking and I was on the quad when the trail just collapsed under the wheels,” he said, adding the quad went careening down the slope – with him still aboard. “I went down with it about 100 feet, and it kept going for another 100 feet or so.
“(The quad) had landed on me somewhere in the course of the fall, and crushed my calf and my shoulder. “We gathered up a few things, like some food and sleeping bags. I couldn’t climb back up the hill, so we had to go down to the bottom and work our way across the creek over fallen logs, up a couple of small hills about half a kilometre to the forestry road.” The accident happened at around 5 p.m., and the two made it to the forestry road at Cottonwood Lake by about 11 p.m.
“We stayed overnight in a logging trailer – it had a big “Expolsives” sign on it, but we needed to get out of the rain.”
After a fitfull sleep, Cody and his father rose at daybreak and started out again.
“I just couldn’t do it,” John said. “I walked probably about four more kilometres before I just couldn’t go any further and had to send Cody on his way alone.”
So Cody, just 10 years old, tried to ignore the fresh bear scat and looming woods as he walked the next six kilometres or so by himself to reach an uncle’s house in Renata, where he knocked on the door and brought rescuers to his father.
“He wasn’t just scared – he was in a state of shock, too … traumatized, I think, from watching the accident,” said John.
But bring help he did, arriving at Renata at about 7 a.m., and John was taken to the Castlegar emergency room, where he was stabilized and transfered to the Trail hospital for leg surgery. A three-day stay ensued for John, and he has regained 80 to 90 per cent use of the damaged leg despite the ordeal he was forced to put it through before receiving medical attention.
“If Cody hadn’t gone on alone, there’s a good chance I would’ve lost the foot as a best case scenario or – worst case – died.
“I knew he had it in him – I guess this was a good opportunity for us both to learn our own strength and endurance.”
Cody’s mom and two siblings are delighted to have the family back and in one piece, and John said the ATV was recently repaired and is now ready for off-roading again.
“I’ve thought about it a lot, and there’s nothing I could’ve done differently – it just happened,” he said. “I’ll be a lot more selective about the trails I take now, though.”
Cody said he’s game for more off-road trips – just not ones like the 2007 journey.
“It was pretty scary,” Cody said. “It took , like, eight hours because Dad couldn’t walk that fast – and it seemed like a lot longer. It never entered my mind (that I wouldn’t make it), I was just thinking about getting there. And I had to work really hard not to think about bears.”
He said he learned, from the experience, just how strong he can be when called upon, and offered this advice to other kids in crisis situations:
“Just try to get back as fast as you can, and stay calm.”
Was he able to stay clam?
Finally, he said the Governor General’s award for bravery (the ceremony has not yet been scheduled, but will take place this year) is cool, but the real award for him is that his dad is home and okay.