Ed Woods Jr. and Maverick Kirchoff were in the right place at the right time.
And as a result of their actions, Sunday ended as a happy Easter for all involved.
Woods and Kirchoff pulled Canadians Cory Bruyere and Cody Bruyere from the Rainy River Sunday evening after they were thrown from their canoe near the Ranier lift bridge, reports Koochiching County Sheriff Perryn Hedlund.
The Bruyeres were taken by ambulance to the Rainy Lake Medical Center hospital, where they were treated for hypothermia, said Hedlund, who stressed the need to wear life jackets, especially at this time of the year.
Woods said he’s not a hero, and gives credit to former Ranier Mayor Dave Trompeter, who lives just a few houses down from him, who had a boat on the waterfront.
For Woods, it all began as he chatted with a relative who had stopped by his house on the waterfront near Shelrude Point in Ranier.
Admitting he has poor hearing, he wondered if his visitors had been screaming to him as he left his house to say hello. As he stood near their vehicle, he said he again thought he heard something that sounded like screaming, but no one else noticed.
Wife Naomi came out of the house to tell Ed she thought she heard someone yelling, and they walked to the waterfront, from where they could see two people floating in the water.
Ed Woods said from the time he first thought he heard screaming to the time he discovered the men, about 20 minutes had gone by, and both men appeared fatigued.
As Woods looked for a boat and then it’s paddles at Trompeter’s house, Kirchoff, of International Falls, was also drawn by the shouting of the men.
Woods said he appeared ready and able to help, said Woods, explaining he was grateful for the young, strong-looking man’s assistance in the effort.
As they paddled toward the men, Woods said the man floating that he assumed was the father was “calm and collected,” giving his son advice to stay calm.
Kirchoff was able to pull the men into the boat, while Woods provided counterweight to keep the boat from tipping.
“I thought we don’t need four people in the water needing rescue,” he said.
He and Kirchoff paddled their way back to shore where they were met by deputies and the International Falls Fire & Rescue Service.
Both Bruyeres were exhausted from being in the frigid river for nearly half an hour, Woods said.
And both rescuers were also fatigued and muddied by the experience.
“I’m just glad it ended the way it did,” Woods said.
Hedlund pointed to the rescue and said it’s an example of the value and importance of wearing a life jacket when in a boat, and especially at times like this when the water temperature is not much above freezing.
“Life jackets are a must,” he said.
And he credited Woods and Kirchoff for handling the situation well.
“Great job by my Uncle Ed and Maverick,” he told The Journal.