KENTVILLE, N.S. – At first, Richard Kirk couldn’t hear the screams.
The wind was howling, and rain battered the Nova Scotia carpenter’s face, as he looked down at a vehicle that had gone off a slippery Annapolis Valley road last Friday night and into a watery ditch.
Then he heard Alex Pineo and Cassidy Jones, frightened and shouting for help. They were trapped, the frigid water entering their battered car as they struggled to open the jammed doors.
He said he didn’t even think about it — he just acted reflexively to help.
“I hollered. I threw a piece of ice at the side of the car so they knew I was there,” he said, adding he then called 911.
“I just jumped in the water, put my feet against the bank and shouted, ‘I’ll get you out. Just hold on.'”
“I put my back against the door and gave it a rock and I was able to get the driver’s side rear door open.”
The 33-year-old came forward this week after Pineo put out a social media appeal for help finding his rescuer.
The couple had managed to escape the vehicle, but in the confusion the pair didn’t get Kirk’s name or telephone number as rescue vehicles arrived.
Kirk said in an interview Wednesday he had come across the crashed vehicle as he was driving back to his home in Hall’s Harbour from Wolfville. Afterward, he simply continued on his way, and told his wife, Amelia Kirk, that he’d just carried out a single-handed rescue.
“I told her, I just pulled two people out of a car on Church Street that was in a drainage ditch,” he recalled.
He said Amelia was pleased with him, and he received “an extra plate of supper,” but he didn’t expect further recognition.
“I just did it. I don’t see something like that as an act of heroism. People are in need. When somebody’s in need you help them. That’s what I was taught,” he said, as he prepared to start his work day as a contractor building houses.
He also made light of how he’d shifted the car in order to open the door, saying it simply seemed “using my body was the easiest way.”
Eventually, though, Pineo’s appeal produced an answer: Their saviour was this unassuming carpenter from Hall’s Harbour.
Pineo was unavailable for an interview Wednesday, but said in an email: “We’ve found the man who helped us and we’ve thanked him.”
Kirk insisted Wednesday it was hardly any trouble: “My boots were wet, and I had wet feet. I work outside all winter. A little bit of wet feet, that happens on a regular basis.”
Kirk’s aunt, Sheila Tanner, said in an interview her nephew is a low-key fellow, and she’s not surprised he’s downplaying his actions.
“He’s a gentle, kind-hearted soul,” she said.
— Story by Michael Tutton in Halifax.
Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.