Churchill man gets courage award for saving woman from polar bear attack
Published Friday, May 1, 2015 3:33PM CST
Last Updated Friday, May 1, 2015 3:55PM CST
A Churchill man has received the Star of Courage, Canada's second-highest honour for bravery.
William Ayotte was honoured Friday in Ottawa for his heroic act in saving a woman from a polar bear attack.
The 71-year-old man attended the ceremony at Rideau Hall and received the award from Governor General David Johnston.
He helped save a woman from a polar bear attack in Churchill in November 2013.
“I was watching TV in my house and I could hear screaming and I said to myself, 'That’s not on my TV.' So I went to my front door and opened the door and I looked outside and about 40 feet away was a bear mauling a woman.”
“The bear had the woman by the head and was wagging her around in the air and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Ayotte.
He said he knew the woman wouldn't survive if he didn't act.
“So I was thinking I’ve got to do something,” he said.
He managed to use a shovel to hit the bear in the eye, which drew it off the woman.
The bear then jumped on Ayotte and began to maul him.
People tried to shoot and distract the bear, until a neighbour finally used his truck to scare it away.
Four other Manitobans received medals of bravery, including Keith Jacob Hoffman, who helped a person in a plane crash near Red Lake, Ont. and Paul Peters, Daniel Privé, and Ernest Quick, who helped rescue a man from a burning truck in Winnipeg.
The list of people recognized can be found on the website for the Governor General.