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The father, who had declined earlier media requests for interviews, asked that his daughter’s named not be published.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