A Calgary speed skater who was just recently named to Canada’s Olympic team got the chance to thank the person she says saved her life five years ago.
Brianne Tutt, 25, says her skating career nearly came to an end in a nasty crash at the Olympic Oval in 2012.
During a typical Saturday in December, Tutt was waiting at the practice start when another skater slammed into her.
“I remember waking up in the hospital and thinking, ‘I don’t know how I came back’, because to have that experience where you’re watching yourself die on the ice is something that really changes you.”
Calgary firefighter Innes Fraser was in the stands, watching his son play hockey when he heard the screaming. He rushed over to help and stabilized her neck while she was taken to hospital.
“I think any firefighter that was there would have done the same thing, but I’m glad it was me,” he said.
Tutt suffered serious injuries in the crash including a broken neck, collar bone, hearing loss and a concussion.
When she was in hospital, doctors told her that there was a possibility that she may never walk again.
However, miraculously, Tutt was back on the skates and even competed in the Sochi Winter Games.
She and her family say that they always wanted to thank the man who was there at the right time to help her.
Tutt and Fraser met each other for the first time since the crash on Sunday and the young woman calls it a ‘strange’ experience.
“You’re literally meeting the guy that saved your life and there’s nothing I can ever do to thank him for doing that,” Tutt said. “I cried when I saw him; I never cry. It’s such a special feeling. I feel like I owe him so much.”
Fraser, meanwhile, says he’s glad she’s recovered well.
“It’s like meeting an old friend. It was very satisfying to know she’s done as well as she’s done.”
After her experience, Tutt says she’s inspired to become a firefighter herself once her speed skating days are behind her.
For now, her eyes are on Olympic gold in PyeongChang.
“I had a top five finish in Calgary. It’s definitely an attainable goal. I just gotta figure out a way to shave that second off my 1,500.”
Tutt now heads to Germany to compete in the World Cup and, after that; she’ll fly to China where she will train until the Olympics next month.
(With files from Ina Sidhu)
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