Divine in­ter­ven­tion

Five-year-old girl survives per­ilous out­door or­deal


Divine in­ter­ven­tion. That’s what a Heart’s De­light- Is­ling­ton fa­ther cred­its most for the sur­vival of his five-year-old daugh­ter last week af­ter the young girl made a per­ilous trek through the com­mu­nity.

The girl had walked bare­foot for half a kilome­tre over some rugged ter­rain cov­ered in snow and ice, some­how man­ag­ing to cross a

“It’s amaz­ing what a child can do. If that were me, I’d

be frozen.” — Melvin Har­num, Heart’s De­light-is­ling­ton

swollen brook, whose banks were lined with thorny bushes.

While some put it down to good luck, Stephen Mcin­tyre, the child’s fa­ther, said, “as Chris­tians, we be­lieve in divine in­ter­ven­tion.”

The fa­ther, who had de­clined ear­lier me­dia re­quests for in­ter­views, asked that his daugh­ter’s named not be pub­lished.

Stand­ing on the doorstep of his Heart’s De­light home late Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Feb. 16, Mcin­tyre re­counted the in­ci­dent for The Com­pass.

The or­deal be­gan shortly af­ter 2

. p.m. Valen­tine’s Day at a home where a babysit­ter was look­ing af­ter three chil­dren, in­clud­ing the five-year-old.

While ear­lier re­ports had sug­gested the chil­dren had got­ten wet while out­side play­ing in the snow, the fa­ther told The Com­pass what ac­tu­ally hap­pened was there had been some flood­ing on the ground floor of the house where they were and the chil­dren got their feet wet.

The babysit­ter had gone to put their wet socks into the dryer. The five-year-old missed the babysit­ter gone and didn’t know where she was. Not re­al­iz­ing she was still in the house, the child’s next in­stinct was to look for her par­ents. And the first place that must have come to her mind hap­pened to be the town hall, which she had vis­ited with her par­ents.

To get there, she had to make her way down what is known as Dou­ble Hill, across Reid Street and across the brook, from which she emerged near a bridge im­me­di­ately across from the town hall. Af­ter crawl­ing up over a bank, she also had to cross the main Trin­ity South high­way, which runs through Heart’s De­light-is­ling­ton, be­fore fi­nally mak­ing her way up the walk­way to the town hall build­ing.

Fell in the river

Town clerk Emily Har­num said, “all she could say over and over was, ‘I fell in the river.’”

Har­num went out and “pounded on the door” to alert the am­bu­lance at­ten­dants housed un­der the same roof, ac­cord­ing to a source, who pre­ferred to re­main anony­mous.

The town clerk said she only saw the girl for about two min­utes be­fore the am­bu­lance at­ten­dants and public health nurse took over the sit­u­a­tion at 2:34 p.m.

“It was pretty awe­some what they did. We are grate­ful for all their help.” — Stephen Mcin­tyre, fa­ther

The am­bu­lance at­ten­dants took the young girl to the Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hospi­tal, where she was mon­i­tored be­fore be­ing dis­charged.

Their oath of con­fi­den­tial­ity pre­vented the at­ten­dants from speak­ing with the me­dia. And the public health nurse also de­clined com­ment, say­ing she was not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

Do­ing well

Mean­while, Mcin­tyre said his daugh­ter had “some blis­ter­ing,” but aside from that, “she is feel­ing much bet­ter now.”

Af­ter re­trac­ing his daugh­ter’s foot­steps through the snow, Mcin­tyre said, “it was a mir­a­cle she got through the river.”

Melvin Har­num, who showed the fa­ther the route his daugh­ter had taken, agreed. Amazed by how de­ter­mined and re­silient chil­dren can be, Har­num, who is the town’s heavy equip­ment op­er­a­tor, said, “it’s amaz­ing what a child can do. Con­sid­er­ing the sub-zero tem­per­a­tures that day, and the girl’s at­tire,” the 56-year-old Har­num said, “if that were me, I’d be frozen.”

While ear­lier re­ports had sug­gested the girl had “lit­tle or no clothes on,” her fa­ther said she was wear­ing “pants and a long shirt,” at the time of the in­ci­dent.

Har­num, mean­while, said he couldn’t be­lieve how she sur­vived. Es­ti­mat­ing the brook to be four feet deep in places, he sug­gested “the cur­rent must have taken her off her feet and washed her down the river. Lucky is not the word. If any­body be­lieves in the man above, He had to be look­ing on her that day,” Har­num said.

Thank­ing God for the pos­i­tive out­come to his daugh­ter’s or­deal, Stephen Mcin­tyre said, “we be­lieve the divine hand played some part in pro­tect­ing our daugh­ter.”

Babysit­ter not to blame

Howard Soo­ley, the babysit­ter’s un­cle, told CBC’S Here & Now his niece, who is in her 20s, babysits of­ten and feels ter­ri­ble about the whole thing.

“She wishes there is some­thing she could do to re­verse the whole thing as if it had not hap­pened,” Soo­ley told CBC.

But Stephen Mcin­tyre does not lay any blame on the babysit­ter for what hap­pened. Sug­gest­ing it was un­for­tu­nate that some had pointed fin­gers at the sit­ter, he said it was not her fault.

Re­fer­ring to the am­bu­lance at­ten­dants, public health nurse and coun­cil staff, and all who helped his daugh­ter in any way, Mcin­tyre said, “it was pretty awe­some what they did. We are grate­ful for all their help.”

Photo by Bill Bow­man/The Com­pass

Melvin Har­num points to the spot in the brook where a five-year old girl emerged Feb. 14 af­ter walk­ing bare­foot for half a kilome­tre. The heavy equip­ment op­er­a­tor for Heart’s De­light-is­ling­ton be­lieves it was a mir­a­cle the young sur­vived the or­deal.

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