Today driving through the heart of Galt at the Grand River I was reminded of a sad event which occurred there eleven years ago and had a very moving effect upon the entire Region of Waterloo. A young boy had been playing precariously at a water control wall and fell in and was sucked under by the formidable current. In the rescue attempt a diving specialist police constable also lost his life.
Hear the commendation read posthumously in awarding a Governor-General's Medal of Bravery:
Constable David Rodney Nicholson, M.B. (Posthumous), Waterloo, Ont.
Senior Constable Curtis Rutt, M.B., Belwood, Ont.
Constable Robert Sauve, M.B., Kitchener, Ont.
Medal of Bravery
On August 12, 1998, Curtis Rutt and Robert Sauve risked their lives trying to save David Nicholson who had become trapped underwater while attempting to rescue a twelve-year-old boy at the Grand River's Parkhill Dam, in Cambridge, Ontario. Responding to a call, diver Nicholson jumped into the water and was searching among the jutting wall abutments when he was sucked inside the sluice by the tremendous force of the water. Finding himself trapped because his scuba tank was wedged in a hole, he sent a distress signal through his life line. Seeing that efforts by several others to pull his partner out failed, Cst. Sauve jumped in but he too was sucked into the sluice near Cst. Nicholson. He was able to pull himself free and return to the surface before making two more unsuccessful attempts to dislodge his partner. Cst. Rutt then descended with a scuba tank rigged to a long pole but the tank was sucked into the hole as he neared the victim. Cst. Rutt returned to shore for a guide rope and, with a tremendous effort, managed to tie it close to his colleague. Regrettably, when the line was pulled up, Cst. Nicholson's regulator hose was attached to it, ending all hope of a successful rescue. The bodies of the boy and of Cst. Nicholson were recovered later.
Everyone commented on the apparent sad waste of life. Why the rush to put the diver down there? The young boy was dead obviously. Why not first rig some kind of water-diversion wall to reduce the force of flow to the watergate? Why had no one alerted the police to the fact that a second watergate had been closed off years before, thereby doubling the force at the aperture in question?
In my travels I talked to a few constables who confirmed that Nicholson was a "great guy" with a beautiful young family, sincere and productive church involvement and exemplary record of service on the force. His wife presented the trust and confidence of a Christian at the funeral. Many spoke of his keen involvement with youth.
Although unspoken, many of his associates undoubtedly harboured the thought, "Well, at least he was prepared." Clearly he had responded to duty, compassion, the clear call for his special skills and the hope against hope that the trapped boy might still be saved.
Someday at glorious reunion we will see the impact of his selfless act on wandering souls turned to Christ. For the time being he is a "beautiful vine blossoming on the other side of the wall."