They say heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and Jax Burnside played the part to pint-sized perfection.
Jax and his mother, Shannon Burnside, were about to make one last cast of the crab trap at Cheanuh Marina around 2:45 p.m. on Nov. 17 when disaster struck.
“I lost my footing and fell backwards into the water,” Shannon explained.
The two were the only ones on the far end of the furthest dock from the marina office. Jax grabbed his mom’s phone and tried calling 911 and then his father, but the phone was just out of cell range.
“I told him to go and get help but don’t run because I was afraid he’d slip,” said Shannon, noting both were wearing life vests. “He was crying at that point but he was brave throughout the whole ordeal. He had to run a couple of hundred yards to the office and he fell twice, but he got up and kept going.”
When asked if he hurt himself when he fell, the six-year-old said, “all I could think about was getting help for my mom.”
Shannon, a Colwood resident, screamed repeatedly for help. “I was looking around everywhere, but there was no one in sight. I kept trying to pull myself out of the water, but I was going limp. I stuck my arm into a wooden cleat and hung onto part of the dock with my leg so I wouldn’t float away.”
Jax kept running for help and ran into a man who had seen what happened from a nearby house.
Meanwhile, Grant Sawyer, an employee at Cheanuh Marina, had seen Jax running toward the office and ran down to help.
“I wasn’t able to hold on any longer at that point,” Shannon said. “I’d been in the water for a good 15 minutes. Grant held on to my arm and told me more help was on the way. All in all six people helped out, including a woman in a boat. I feel totally lucky to be here,” she said.
“I can’t thank everyone enough. I think it’s important that everyone’s acknowledged for what they did and know how much I appreciate it,” added Shannon, who’s been out to the marina to thank those involved.
Jax, a Grade 1 student at Happy Valley Elementary, said all he could think about was running as fast as he could to get help. “I was really scared for my mom.”