Proud Bay dad speaks of hero son

By Kiri Gillespie

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Athenree couple Peter and Lorna Harwood are "terribly proud" of their son Buddy Harwood, who risked his life to save a family trapped in a burning car in Canada.Photo/Supplied
Athenree couple Peter and Lorna Harwood are "terribly proud" of their son Buddy Harwood, who risked his life to save a family trapped in a burning car in Canada.Photo/Supplied

The father of a Bay man who risked his life to save a Canadian family trapped in a burning car says he could not be prouder of his son's actions.

Buddy Harwood, 20, who was a member of the Athenree volunteer brigade before he moved to Canada, was driving to the resort town of Whistler on Saturday with girlfriend Stephanie Saxton when the car ahead of them flipped, rolled down a bank and caught on fire.

Buddy got to the scene, where he saw a little boy trapped inside the burning car, screaming and banging the glass window to get out. Buddy and another man smashed the glass to pull the boy out. It was then they realised there were four more people in the vehicle.

Buddy said that as a firefighter "it was natural instinct to just get in there".

"I instantly thought 'it could blow' and so I stood back. But then I heard banging and I looked down and it was a young kid screaming. He was screaming, 'Help, help'.

You just cannot walk away from that," he said.

When the men went to rescue the back seat passengers - and elderly man, another child, and a trapped woman - the fire reignited.

"That's when it started to get really nerve racking," Buddy said. "It was really intense. We believed the old man was dead ... We had to get him out of the way to get the boy. That was more important, to preserve the other life. "I reached in and grabbed the last person, the mum, and yanked her out and just ran. Then the car just exploded. We were just in time."

Buddy spent about 30 minutes doing CPR but could not revive the man. The rest of the family was taken to hospital.

"Would I do it again? Oh yeah, over and over."

Athenree fire chief and Buddy's father, Peter Harwood, said could not be prouder of his boy.

Mr Harwood said he was yet to speak to his son since the crash but had managed to message a couple of times.

"We're just waiting for the dust to settle before we have a good yarn."

Buddy and Ms Saxton are now being celebrated in Canadian press as "good samaritans who saved a family".

"It's nice to know that your kids, when faced with something like that, they step up," Mr Harwood said.

Lorna Harwood said the rescue had made the couple 'terribly proud' of their boy.

"He was the right person in the right place where he needed to be. We are real grateful he was not hurt."

Last year, Buddy featured in the Bay of Plenty Times after rescuing a woman trapped in her car during heavy flooding near Waihi Beach.

He smashed a window and helped the woman climb out.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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