A Long Sault doctor is being credited with saving the life of a drowning teenager who nearly lost his life near Island 17.
But there’s a twist to this story – Dr. Baldev Soodan has no idea who the young man is.
A few weeks ago Soodan was sailing his small catamaran-type vessel on a windy afternoon when he heard the cries of a young man whose head was barely bobbing above the surface of the water near McDonell Island.
“I could hear him yelling help, help,” said Soodan in an interview. “I was about 150 feet away from him.”
It took a few minutes to get the catamaran turned around in such a way that Soodan could aid the young man.
“You could tell he was just exhausted,” he said, adding the young man appeared to be about 16 or 17 years old and of Middle Eastern descent. “If I would have been another five or 10 minutes later…How long can you hang on?”
Soodan had half a mind to forget about sailing altogether that day. The wind was so bad that he had to convince himself to hit the water.
“Three times I came out to see what it was like,” he said. “And finally I said I am going to go anyway.”
It was a good thing he made that decision. By the time Soodan had brought the boat alongside the drowning teen, the young man was too tired to pull himself aboard.
“I don’t have a ladder,” he said.
So the teen wrapped his arm around a small rail at the back of the catamaran while Soodan made his way to shore. It took 10 agonizing minutes, but the young man finally made it to safety.
“He thanked me,” said Soodan, adding the young man then bolted for an area along shore where he said his parents were enjoying the day.
“I don’t know who he was.”
Soodan said the young man told him he was from Montreal, but that is his only clue.
Soodan said he continues to replay the incident in his head.
“I just happened to be ther, lucky for him,” he said. “There are always people very helpful on the river.
“When I think back about it, I feel good.”