‘And then the lights went out’

Dog helps save man, boys in col­lapsed fort

Cape Breton Post - - COMMUNITY/PROVINCE - BY THE CANA­DIAN PRESS THE CANA­DIAN PRESS-HO-STEVE BAY­ERS

A Nova Scotia man is prais­ing the ef­forts of the fam­ily dog for help­ing save him and two young boys who were buried un­der a heavy moun­tain of snow af­ter their fort col­lapsed on top of them.

Steve Bay­ers, his son Ben and his friend Adam Inch were build­ing a snow fort in Lawrence­town on Satur­day when the roof sud­denly caved in, pin­ning the man’s arms and legs un­der­neath him.

“(Ben and Adam) were lay­ing down in there tak­ing a break in­side the fort and I was shav­ing some snow off the ceil­ing with a small plas­tic shovel. Snow was fall­ing on them and ev­ery­body was laugh­ing and hav­ing a great time. And then the lights went out,’’ said Bay­ers in a phone in­ter­view Tues­day.

Bay­ers said the two boys were just feet away from him, scream­ing in the pitch black, but he couldn’t move un­der the weight of the snow to help them. He told the two 13-yearold boys not to panic and to

keep breath­ing.

Bay­ers said it seemed im­pos­si­ble to get out un­til his five-year-old golden retriever, Zoose, be­gan dig­ging him out of the snow.

“I heard a bark and felt a tug­ging on my jacket, so I knew it was my dog,’’ said Bay­ers, adding that he’s not sure how

long he was trapped un­der the dense snow.

“He was try­ing to pull me out. So at that point, I got my bear­ings and I knew my back was close enough to an exit that if I could free my limbs up and get my leg un­tan­gled, there was a chance I could get out.’’

Bay­ers man­aged to free him­self and be­gan call­ing for help, alert­ing a neigh­bour and three friends, who ran over and started shov­el­ling through the heaps of snow to find the two boys.

He says they were buried in the pile for about 10 min­utes.

“They were scream­ing that they couldn’t breathe, but I knew if they were scream­ing, they were breath­ing,’’ said Bay­ers.

The in­ci­dent left Bay­ers with a bro­ken fibula and twisted knee, while his son has a mi­nor con­cus­sion and sore neck and shoul­der. Inch is sore, but was not in­jured.

Bay­ers de­scribed it as a “near-fa­tal in­ci­dent.’’ He wanted to tell his story to warn oth­ers about the dan­gers of snow forts and tun­nels.

“If I had left those kids there alone, they would have never got out,’’ he said. “If you are go­ing to build a fort, there should al­ways be an adult there — and do not have a roof on it, and if you do, it has to be a very thin roof.

“If we can pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing to even one more per­son, then it’s worth it.’’

A Nova Scotia man is cred­it­ing Zoose the fam­ily pooch, shown in a hand­out photo, with help­ing save him and two young boys who were trapped when their snow fort col­lapsed on them.

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