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Trio Honored for Saving Coworker

At Top: John van Dongen, Abbotsford South MLA, left, and Kevin Douglas, Scott Melenchuk, Andrea Kellner, Bobby Yanciw and Herb Schmidt of the PNR RailWorks office in Abbotsford at the company’s holiday party. Above: Andrea, Kevin and Scott. Photo by Ric Ernst/The Province

The governor general’s office recognized three PNR RailWorks employees for their actions in saving the life of a coworker.

Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen attended the Abbotsford holiday party in late 2010 to present certificates of commendation to Kevin Douglas, operator; Andrea Kellner, project timekeeper; and Scott Melenchuck, mechanic. The trio saved Bobby Yanciw, operator, in 2009 after Bobby disappeared during a swimming outing.

The group had been working for CN Rail near Peace River in Alberta and decided on a day off to go for a swim. At one point, Scott noticed that Bobby had disappeared from where he’d been sitting on a rock.

Andrea and Kevin called for Bobby on shore as Scott searched the murky water. It was after his sixth dive to the bottom, as he pushed off to return to the surface for air, that Scott felt Bobby’s hand. He brought Bobby up, and Kevin helped bring him to shore. The two began cardiopulmonary resuscitation while Andrea called 911.

“I started performing CPR and I kept doing it until the paramedics showed up,” Scott said. “I started to get shallow breathing.” A helicopter arrived to take a revived but seriously injured Bobby to a hospital.

Pacific Region Manager Herb Schmidt called the actions of those involved “phenomenal.” He told In a B.C. newspaper, The Province. “I was hoping they were going to be recognized for a very special deed.” Herb nominated the three for the awards.

“Scott, Kevin and Andrea demonstrated the ultimate contribution in helping their friend,” Herb said to the approximately 120 people gathered at the holiday function. The trio received an ovation as he thanked them for their “selfless action in helping our fellow PNR family member.”

After almost a year recovering, Bobby returned to work. He, too, received a big ovation at the holiday gathering.

“I’ve said my thanks to them,” he told the Abbotsford News. “It’s excellent. They deserve it. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today.”