Shannon St. Onge knew she had to run into her office at First Nation’s University on Monday to sign a check. Anticipating the forecasted blizzard in Saskatchewan, St. Onge kept her eye on the highway conditions throughout the day. Thinking she would be able to pop in and out without a problem, St. Onge filled up her car, grabbed a new phone charger, picked up pizza for her kids’ dinner, and left.
But what was supposed to be a short stop to the office turned into a 14-hour ordeal.
The blizzard hit sooner than expected. St. Onge ended up driving down the dirt road with her window rolled down, attempting to get a view of the road’s edge to act as a guide. It quickly grew apparent that driving any further was too dangerous. Panicked, she pulled over and called 911. The operator suggested that she wait the storm out, and said an officer would call back to check in.
14 hours later, St. Onge received no call.
Shannon St. Onge.
“Would the gas tank last until morning?” Shannon St. Onge wondered. “What if I was hit by another vehicle? What if I fell asleep and the tailpipe was blocked? What if I didn’t make it home at all?”
St. Onge took it upon herself to find her way out of the situation. She exited her car and searched for any nearby signage to indicate where she was. Upon finding “Bouiver Lane,” St. Onge was able to pin her location and post it on the Pense community Facebook page. One man messaged her to let her know that he knew the family whose farm she was located by, and that he had contacted their son.
Meanwhile, the farm’s owner, Andre Bouvier Sr. was comfortable in his home, doing some genealogy research. When he got the call about St. Onge’s cry for help, he sprung into action. His 70-year-old wife was concerned about her 80-year-old husband’s safety, but Bouvier knew he needed to act. When he got to his tractor, however, he found it was dead.
But Bouvier refused to let that be the end of things. He bundled up, grabbed an LED flashlight, and walked into the storm to find St. Onge’s car, in spite of the brutal conditions.
“The worst part was the wind. Halfway there, I had to put my mitts in front of my eyes,” he said.
View of the poor visibility. Credit: Shannon St. Onge.
Bouiver not only found St. Onge, but two other stranded vehicles for a total of seven trapped individuals. He guided their cars one by one back to his home on foot.
“Once we arrived to [his] house, and I parked the car, I got out and jumped into his arms and gave him a great big bear hug,” St. Onge says. “I was sobbing with gratitude, I was so grateful.”
Bouiver and his wife treated the stranded individuals to hot drinks, blankets, and a warm place to rest for a few hours while the storm died down. By the time they rose at 5:00 a.m., Bouiver had already plowed the driveway for them.
While St. Onge and the other drivers will be forever grateful for Andre Bouiver’s kindness, he brushes off the words as “no big deal.”
“Everybody would have done the same thing,” he insists. “You don’t think about it, you just do it.”
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