Kamloops farmer Avtar Hothi quickly sprang to action when he noticed a teenage girl struggling in the river near his property. "She was just in shock at the moment we pulled her out of the water. She was freezing basically," Hothi said
KAMLOOPS – A quick-thinking Sikh-Canadian farmer from Kamloops, B.C., used his turban to save a teen who had fallen into the cold waters of a nearby river.
Avtar Hothi and his son, Paul, were on their farm near Heffley Creek when they noticed a teen struggling in the North Thompson River close to their farm, reported CBC News.
"I'm very proud of him," said Paul Hothi, referring to his 65-year-old dad.
"We were trying to look around for branches, and he just sprung to action, took off his turban right away, threw it in the water and pulled her to shore."
Paul Hothi said the girl was about 14 or 15 years old. He doesn't know how she fell into the river, but said the water is very cold this time of year.
"She was just in shock at the moment we pulled her out of the water. She was freezing basically," he said. "[We] quickly covered her up with a blanket to warm her up."
His father then drove the girl back to her grandmother's house a few minutes from their farm.
Paul Hothi said his father, who is Sikh, doesn't usually take his turban off outside their home.
"It's a religious thing. You have to keep your head covered," he explained.
The girl's relatives confirmed a member of the family was rescued after falling in the river, but didn't want to speak to media about the incident.
Hothi says that’s when his father pulled off his turban which, when unwrapped, is a nearly three-metre length of cloth.
The woman was able to clutch one end when it was tossed to her, and she was quickly pulled from the water.
“We weren’t prepared for it or expecting anything like this and his quick thinking,” said the younger Hothi. “We used his turban as a rope because it would have been a lot harder just to pull someone up off shore.”
He also said someone brought a blanket and the frightened woman was calmed down and returned safely to relatives in a nearby home.
Sikh men consider it improper to show their hair in public, but Hothi noted those rules don’t apply if it’s a case of life and death.