Petrolia men receive medals of bravery
John McDonald and John Allison received medals of bravery from the Governor General at the London Convention Centre, recognizing them for their bravery in rescuing a woman from a burning car. Absent from the photograph is a third Petrolia man, Robert Stokes. Mike Henson/Postmedia Network
Three Petrolia men have been honoured for bravery for their role in rescuing an elderly woman from a burning car in 2015.
The trio – John Allison, John McDonald and Robert Stokes – each received a Medal of Bravery from Governor-General David Johnston at a formal ceremony held March 9 in London.
The men were each driving home from work in April 2015 when they came across a vehicle that was on fire, on Petrolia Line near the Brigden Sideroad. Mary Beth Lucas was inside the burning vehicle and had become stuck while trying to climb through a window.
Allison reached inside the car to pull Lucas out, which took several attempts. With the help of Stokes and McDonald, Lucas was carried her from the wreckage to safety and waited for emergency response.
“Both John and I just thought the car was overheating with smoke coming out of it,” McDonald said. “Then I realized that she was hanging out the window.”
Both McDonald and Allison said they were surprised when they got the call about the award, saying what they did was an automatic respond.
“It’s an honour, I must say,” Allison said. “I don’t think any of us felt that what we did was deserving of a medal of honour… we just did what I think anyone in that situation would have done.”
McDonald said he felt undeserving of the medal, noting they didn’t think it was such a big deal at the time.
“We just did what we had to do at the time,” he said.
Allison said time seemed to stop as events unfolded before him and the other two men. He was glad to see a happy ending on a day where fate seemed to bring them together.
“It’s funny in hindsight… we all left work a little early that day from different places and for different reasons,” he said. “Be it by the grace of God or some coincidence, we were there at the right time... it could have been a very different ending.”
Allison said it struck all three of the men how a situation can so quickly deteriorate within just a matter of moments.
“We just reacted,” he said.
Allison said he hasn’t spoken to Lucas since the day he helped to rescue her with Stokes and McDonald, but hopes to meet her in the future.