News: Dad thankful after son survives fall into Arctic Ocean

Published in the July 16th issue of The Edmonton Sun. News

Dad thankful after son survives fall into Arctic Ocean

Edmonton Sun

The father of a boy who nearly drowned to death in the freezing waters of the Arctic Ocean is thanking Mounties and Stollery Children’s Hospital staff for saving his son.

“My mind was just … I was shaking,” Allen Hikoalok said about receiving the news that his son had nearly drowned to death.

“If the RCMP officers weren’t there, Andrew wouldn’t have survived.”

Hikoalok’s son Andrew Anavilok, 7, was playing with several children at a dock in Cambridge Bay, Nunuvat late last Thursday when he was accidentally pushed into the ocean.

Cambridge Bay RCMP say Anavilok fell to the bottom of the bay 1/3 a drop through about 10 feet of “extreme(ly) cold” water 1/3 went into shock and became unconscious.

That was when Const. Greg Redl dove into the ocean, scooped up Anavilok and brought him to shore.

Const. David Brown then took the boy to the nearby health centre and performed CPR until Anavilok started spewing water and breathing on his own.

But icy water had filled up inside Anavilok’s body, so, deemed in critical condition, he was medivaced to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.

“It was a big scare,” Hikoalok said Thursday. “I’m really, really grateful. I just want to thank the people who helped.”

Those people include the two RCMP officers, as well as the Stollery staff who Hikoalok described as “really, really helpful.”

Hikoalok also credits his supervisor and workers at Hope Bay Mining Ltd., who helped arrange for the father to fly down to Edmonton to be with Anavilok, even assisting Hikoalok and his wife with meals and other expenses when they ran out of pocket money.

Stollery staff pumped the arctic water out of Anavilok’s lungs. Hikoalok was told the cold water was the reason why his son didn’t get brain damage.

After a week of recovering at the Stollery, the boy is now fine.

“He’s walking, jumping around, back to his old hyper self,” Hikoalok said.

Redl agrees. The officer got to spend time with a lively Anavilok Thursday when the boy arrived back in Cambridge Bay.

“He’s looking a lot better than the last time I saw him,” Redl said with a laugh.

Hikoalok was denied medical travel back to Nunavut with his wife and son on Thursday.

He flies back home early Friday morning.

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