Comox Valley hero about a minute from dying during dramatic rescue

HERO DAVID LIVINGSTON was honoured last week in Ottawa for rescuing a man from a burning SUV. At right is Gov.-Gen. David Johnston. - Photo submitted
HERO DAVID LIVINGSTON was honoured last week in Ottawa for rescuing a man from a burning SUV. At right is Gov.-Gen. David Johnston.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Comox Valley resident Daniel Livingston was honored last week in Ottawa for risking his life to rescue an injured man from a burning SUV.

Following Friday's decoration ceremony at Rideau Hall where he and other Canadians were awarded medals of bravery by Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, the 24-year-old Livingston said his brother-in-law Jamie Bond was equally deserving of a citation.

"He was the one who heard it initially," Livingston said of the April 2, 2010 accident that occurred near midnight at the top of Mission Hill in Courtenay. "He was the quick thinker who grabbed the cutting utensils, and he was also ripping his clothes off his back to try to smother out the fire. He was a huge, huge part of it. I don't think it would have went the same way without him."

Livingston was at Bond's house when the driver lost control of the SUV during a heavy rainfall. The vehicle flipped over and caught fire. The driver was ejected while the passenger was trapped in the wreck.

Bond, 36, called Livingston to the door when he heard the sound of a stuck horn. Livingston thought it was nothing to worry about, but said Bond was determined an accident had occurred.

"Being the quick thinker that he is, he grabbed a knife and he also grabbed a pair of scissors," Livingston said. "It went as well as it could have went due to his quick thinking, and my quick acting."

Livingston recalls the scissors "weren't doing the trick" as he tried to cut the passenger's seatbelt. Bond handed him the knife and Livingston continued to cut off one of the straps. As he cut, his sight was hindered because the car was filling with smoke.

Livingston, unable to free the passenger who was held in place because of a shoulder strap, needed to step away from the wreckage due to the heat and smoke. He then jumped back in, cut the strap, and pulled the man out and away from the vehicle.

"The next thing you know you could hear tire after tire exploding, and then the gas tank went," Livingston said. "The whole car was up in flames. By the time the police had shown up it was just one big ball of fire."

He figures the car exploded 30 to 90 seconds after he freed the passenger.

"His hat was melted. I was next to watching him burn to death. It was getting to the point where I had to get out of the vehicle, but I managed to hold on long enough just to get him out...

"If I had to be in the car any longer than I was, I couldn't say it would have went as well as it did."

The driver did not survive.

Livingston was told the medals could be given only to select individuals.

"He's (Bond) going to apply for the first time," Livingston said. "It's completely not fair that he wasn't recognized."

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