Boy and grandfather were inseparable
Jani Daliyanazlou took his grandson ice fishing at Waterford Ponds. He fell through and drowned. His grandson lived.
Jani Daliyanazlou died making sure his nineyear-old grandson Stephan Nissan was saved from the frigid water after they fell through the ice at a Norfolk County conservation area during Family Day weekend.
“His main worry as he was drowning was making sure Stephan was OK,” said his daughter Nahrin Nissan after talking to rescuers. “If anything happened he’d rather it happen to himself.”
The 68-year-old retired steelworker fished every weekend year-round with his only grandchild. During the week the two would plot which conservation area to explore next.
“They were very close,” said Nissan. “Everyone who knew him knew how much they loved each other, you wouldn’t see one without the other. This is a tragic ending.”
The two would come home at the end of the weekend triumphant and grill their catch on the barbecue, smelling up the whole Limeridge Road West neighbourhood but always willing to share the delicious result with their neighbours.
“We owe him so much for taking care of our only son,” said Nissan. “He lived all his life for us. It’s hard taking all of this in. It feels so empty without him. He was a person you could really rely on. Now he’s not there.”
Stephan was skating, as he often did during their fishing outings, when Daliyanazlou fell through the ice Saturday in water about five-metres deep. He was about 80 metres from shore at the Waterford North Conservation Area off Concession 8, about 50 kilometres southwest of Hamilton.
His grandson tried to save him, but fell in the water himself.
Two men heard their yells for help and put themselves in jeopardy to pull the Grade 4 student at Burlington’s St. Anne Elementary School out of the water with a branch around 5 p.m. They were unable to reach Daliyanazlou.
“When they took him out of the water, he wanted to jump back in,” said Nissan, adding rescuers told her they had to hold him back. “Stephan is so brave.”
Nissan called the two men on Sunday to thank them for rescuing Stephan from the pond.
“We are very grateful they saved our only
son,” said Nissan. “They were very sad. They were crying. They wish they could have done more.”
Nissan and her husband Evan Nissan were at their Burlington home when they got a call from police that Stephan was at Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe with mild hypothermia.
“She put Stephan on the phone and he was really crying,” she said. “It was far for us to get to him.”
It wasn’t until Nissan got there that she discovered her dad was still missing. His body was recovered just after noon on Sunday by the Ontario Provincial Police underwater search and recovery unit.
“Stephan doesn’t believe he’s passed,” said Nissan. “He keeps asking: ‘Did the hospital call? Is he OK? When is he coming home?’ ... It’s just so sad … With everyone’s love and prayers hopefully Stephan will get through this traumatic time in his life.”
Daliyanazlou was born in Iran and lived in Qatar and Greece before immigrating to Canada roughly 35 years ago.
“He loved this country,” said Nissan. “He always counted his blessings that he lived here. He was very grateful.”
He never married, dedicating most of his life to his only child.
“I was mostly with him from the day I was born,” said Nissan, who also has a relationship with her mom. “He gave me everything. He always would take me fishing when I was a little girl. He would take me swimming. He knew I loved shopping so he would take me. He was very generous. If we couldn’t afford something, he’d just work extra hard.”
He enjoyed his job as a welder at National Steel Car for 22 years and he was a volunteer at the St. Mary’s Assyrian Church of the East on Stone Church Road West.
“Jani was a great man, loving, honest, hardworking and adventurous,” said Nissan. “We all are feeling a big void in our lives.”
He retired about one year ago and put all his focus on Stephan. He would pick him up after school, take him to all of his activities and they spent every weekend together “hanging out in the wilderness.” Their favourite spot was Binbrook Conservation Area.
“They completed each other,” said Nissan. “He was enjoying every moment of his retirement. He lived life to the fullest. We’re so sad it was cut short. He deserved more.”
Nissan says her dad joined them on every family vacation. His favourite was a trip to Dominican Republic.
He liked to build things and was particularly proud of the shed he completed.
He enjoyed boating and had big plans to buy Stephan his own boat one day.
His passion was barbecuing, especially during family picnics.
“He was a simple man who enjoyed the simple things in life like food and family,” said Nissan. A viewing will take place Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Assyrian church at 63 Stone Church Rd. W., Hamilton, with a funeral mass to follow at 11.
Jani Daliyanazlou, 68, shown here with Stephan Nissan, died Saturday after falling through the ice at the Waterford North Conservation Area.
Rescue workers on the scene late Saturday.