Four Nova Scotians were honoured Wednesday at Province House in Halifax for putting their lives at risk in heroic attempts to save others.
Each was awarded the Medal of Bravery, the province's highest recognition.
"The whole thing is very humbling," said recipient Talbot Boyer of Dartmouth.
Boyer was recognized for pulling a man from a car that flipped over and caught fire in Halifax in January 2021 while he was working as a bus driver.
Other recipients are:
Scott Buchanan of Baddeck who saved two people who fell through the ice at a nearby waterfall February 2020. Buchanan is credited with jumping into the hole in the ice and shielding the victims from the current for 20 minutes until help arrived.
Robert McGregor of Economy made multiple attempts to remove an unconscious person from a burning home near Truro in 2020. Despite his efforts the victims injuries were fatal.
Adam Lefort of Grand Étang saved a woman from drowning while tubing down the Margaree River. She had fallen out of the tube and couldn't swim to safety. He was able to bring her to the surface of the water and stay with her until further help arrived.
The awards were presented by Premier Tim Houston and Attorney General Brad Johns.
Boyer said he spotted an unconscious person inside the flipped vehicle while driving a bus during a 1 a.m. shift in downtown Halifax. He said he immediately tried to open the door and break the glass.
"I couldn't get to him because the flames had engulfed the whole front seat cabin of the car," he said. "At that point he's burning to death and you hear burning and screaming."
Boyer said he made another attempt and was able to pull him out. He noticed the man's legs were on fire and grabbed some snow to put the flames out.
Boyer and his family at the ceremony with Preston MLA Twila Grosse, far right. (Tehosterihens Deer)
Boyer said he still keeps in touch with the man and his family and said it was an instinct to step in and help.
"I definitely never thought I would ever receive an award, I wasn't looking to," he said. "It's definitely surreal."
'I pulled her out from under the tree'
Lefort was just 16 years old when he dove into the Margaree River after seeing a tube pinned next to a fallen tree. The woman who fell out of it had been flipped underwater by the currents.
Now, 19, the moment is still vivid in his mind. Despite the fast-flowing water, Lefort said he didn't think for a second before going to the woman's aid.
"I didn't even hesitate, I just acted right at that moment," Lefort said. "I saw that she was flailing around and I was like, 'there's something very wrong here.'"
He said he was shaking once the adrenaline faded and the woman was brought ashore. He said he still keeps in touch with her and that it took him a few months to fully recuperate from the experience.
Boyer and Lefort said their experiences were surreal and they did what they believed to be the right thing, despite not knowing who they were trying to save.
"In a decision or moment like this just trust your gut instinct and don't rely on what you're thinking," Lefort said. "Just act."
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