Bears to the rescue

JASON HILLS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:39 AM ET

One of the many traits a head coach has to have is to the ability to lead by example, and Bears hockey coach Eric Thurston certainly had that last Saturday.

As the University of Alberta Golden Bears were coming home from Banff following a pair of weekend pre-season games against the UBC Thunderbirds, a simple twist of fate led to saving the life of a young women.

Just outside of Cochrane, the Bears bus came across a burning car on the side of the road and Thurston helped pull the woman to safety.

"It was an unfortunate and scary incident. We were just very thankful to have a team doctor with us," said Thurston.

IRONIC TWISTS

What makes this story even more ironic is that the Bears don't normally carry a team doctor on road trips. A doctor is normally supplied by the home team, but with the games at a neutral site they had to bring their own.

In addition, their second game was delayed 50 minutes because the referees were late, delaying their departure.

"It was a bizarre set of circumstances and it's great how everything worked out. These types of situations can be very scary, but it brings a team closer together and it shows just how fragile life can be ... how in just a split second it can change so drastically."

The bus was coming over a hill on Hwy. 567 west of Airdrie. Thurston was sitting in the front seat and as they crested the hill he saw the car in flames.

"Normally that first seat means you are first in line to get off the bus at Tim Hortons," said Thurston.

"When I saw the car, I immediately thought we needed an extinguisher. When I saw that our extinguisher was only as big as a pop can, I knew it wasn't going to be enough and I had to get her out of there."

Thurston approached the burning car and pulled as hard as he could on the door, not knowing if it would open. When it did, he grabbed the woman and pulled her to safety.

"I first asked her if she had anyone else in the vehicle and she said 'no.' My immediate thought was she could have some sort of spinal cord injury, but I didn't want her to be stuck in the flames," said Thurston.

The Bears doctor, Marni Wesner, was there to check on the woman and trainer Brandon Thomey rushed over to the other vehicle and took care of the two occupants of the other automobile involved in the collision. The players took blankets and jackets to the traumatized woman.

TOO CLOSE TO HOME

This incident hits close to home for the Bears. Currently, two of their players are out of the lineup due to injuries suffered from two separate collisions this summer.

Forward Kieran Block is out for the entire season, recovering from two broken legs. Defenceman Kyle Fecho - who was travelling with the team - is out until at least January with various injuries.

"I am sure it hit home pretty hard for him," said Thurston.

"He's still getting over it physically. This is something that has affected all of us. I know when I came home that night I couldn't sleep, every-time I closed my eyes I couldn't stop seeing all those flames."

Normally, it takes an early road trip or two for a team to bond, but after last weekend it's safe to say the Bears already have.


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