Monday , June 27 2022

Six-year-old 'white as a ghost' at sight of mother trapped in frigid water


Six-year-old Jax looked down at his mother just after she fell into the frigid ocean water off the Cheanuh Marina in Beecher Bay First Nation.

Shannon Burnside, 44, was wearing a life jacket, but weighed down by heavy boots and with a crab trap tangled around her leg, she was unable to pull herself on the dock.

What Jax did next probably saved his mother's life.

Burnside and Jax, who live in Colwood, had been crabbing at Cheanuh Marina on Dock 7, about 500 meters from the marina office last weekend.

Burnside decided to throw the crab trap in one last time, and as she took a step back for momentum, her back leg slipped off the side of the dock.

She went under the water and when she resurfaced, she saw the look on Jax's face. "He was white as a ghost," she said. "He was absolutely terrified."

Burnside swam to the dock but was unable to pull herself up. Jax got low and tried to reach for his mom, calling out "Mama, Mama," but Burnside was too far down and she did not want her son to fall in.

The crab trap had wrapped around Burnside's leg and her big suede hiking boots were dragging her down.

She tried to get her elbows on the dock. "I kept trying and trying my muscles to stop working," she said.

Jax got his mom's cell phone and used the Siri app to try out calling 911, then his father. There was no cellphone coverage and the calls did not go through.

So Burnside tried to keep her voice steady and told Jax: "You're going to have to go get help, but do not run. Be calm. "

Jax took off to the marina office, and Burnside started calling for help.

Two residents of a home overlooking the marina were trying to figure out what was happening. After they saw Jax running, they spotted Burnside in the water and ran toward her.

Grant Sawyer, and the marina employee, also spotted Jax running toward the office and he rushed toward Dock 7.

He came first and grabbed Burnside's hand.

"I do not have anything else," she told him. "I can not hold on anymore."

Shortly after, Brent Baker, who lives in the nearby home, and another man arrived at the dock.

The three men pulled Burnside to safety.

Jax was waiting in the marina office, being comforted by two women.

Burnside was too weak to walk, so a woman with a boat took her to the gas dock, where Burnside could dry and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.

Jax, and Grade 1 student at Happy Valley Elementary School, told his mom that he kept tripping and falling on the dock, but every time he would pick up himself and did not stop running until he reached the office.

The two women in the office told Jax he was the hero of the day.

"They said: 'How do you say Jax? H-E-R-O, "" Burnside recalled.

Burnside said there was a "split frozen moment" when she was in the water and she saw Jax's panicked, tear-stained face.

"I looked at him and I thought:" Is that the last thing I'm going to see? "I did not want that to be the last thing he saw, so I decided I was going to fight , "She said.

Burnside said Jax has barely left her side in the week since the incident.

"He's an amazing little boy," she said. "I'm extremely proud."

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