Peter Hamilton carries a nail clipper on his key chain because it comes in handy to do day-to-day tasks. Little did he know that, on Easter Sundaythis year, it would help him in a dramatic rescue.
Hamilton was walking his dog at around 9:30 a.m. when he heard someone calling out for help.
“I heard someone saying ‘help, help me please,’” said Hamilton.
He looked around him and thought, perhaps ,it was a medical emergency and approached the area from where the cries were coming. That’s when he saw a woman on the ground near the porch of the house. She was tied up, bound with handcuffs, fabric and packing tape.
“She was traumatized and very scared. She said somebody had kidnapped her and held her there for five days,” said Hamilton, who knew he was not going to be able to pick her up to move her so he had to free her.
The woman told Hamilton that her abductor was still in the house and armed with a gun and knife. Hamilton didn’t have a phone on him and was reluctant to leave the woman alone to go for help.
“I knew I couldn’t leave her there…what would happen if I left her there and the guy came out and pulled her back in. I’ve though it over a hundred times, since, and, given the same situation I would have done the exact same thing today, and I think that most people would,” said Hamilton, of what he did next.
He took out his nail clipper. Using the file, he was able to free her from the handcuffs. He then got to work trying to cut the fabric and the packing tape.
“I always carry my nail clippers. They are always good for opening anything small. It’s got this little pokey thing on there for getting into things you need to clean. It’s just a little handy tool,” he said.
That’s when the woman’s kidnapper came out of the front door.
“I got her partially free, when he came out of the house, and I thought I just need to be up if he attacks her. I’m not a big guy… but I just wanted to defend myself,” said Hamilton, who rose to his feet, facing the man. Luckily, the man chose to flee, running across the street, through a schoolyard. He was later arrested.
Hamilton was then able to stop some passersby to call police.
For his heroic actions Hamilton was awarded a Community Member award by the Toronto Police Service on the recommendation of the Sex Crimes Unit.
While happy to be given an award, he does not see himself as a hero, rather someone who did what he had to do.
“I just think that most people in the same situation would do that… it was not a situation you could walk away from.”
Community Member awards were handed out to 40 people on October 18 for acts of bravery, quick-thinking, selfless acts and compassion amongst other attributes.
Seventeen-year-old Jarod Bond was given an award for stopping an alleged serial sex offender. The high school student was in the library, studying, when he heard a woman scream that someone had exposed himself to her. Bond reacted quickly and tried to stop the man from running away.
The man fled through the front doors of the library as a security guard tried stopping him, on his way hitting his face on the door, but he kept running. Bond, the security guard and another boy ran after the man. Bond led the way, outrunning the man and stopping him, while being careful not to injure him.
“I pursued him and there were a few back-and-forths of me being able to apprehend him… I tried not to physically touch him but just grab him by the jacket he was wearing. So I was able to get a tight grip on that and he started saying all this stuff and stopped running” recalled Bond, who was able to stop the man, and hold him until others helped detain him.
“I didn’t know there was an award for this. It’s nice that I got it,” said the high school student,whose efforts helped put an alleged serial sex offender behind bars.
Speaking on the extra steps these awards winners went to, Deputy Chief Mike Federico spoke to the dedication such individuals have in keeping their communities safe.
“[You] engaged in activity that really does demonstrate a firm commitment to public service beyond the call of duty – it’s not your job, it’s our job,” said the Deputy.
Speaking to an audience of friends and family members, the Deputy applauded the efforts of their loved ones.
“The fact that your family members took that extra step to get involved in something that many others might simply have observed and walked past, is the true testament of the characters and your family members represent,” said Federico.
Susan Oswald, the mother of 16-year-old Timel Oswald, knows these values to be true in her son so, when she received a letter from the police delivered at home (an invitation to the award ceremony in fact), she knew it could only be something good.
“The kind of person he is, he is always so giving and always going out of his way. I knew it was nothing bad,” she said.
Timel, along with his cadet partner Christina Giallo, helped rescue a man who had fallen onto subway tracks at Bathurst station. The man suffered a broken leg, arm and back injury from the fall, but the two teenagers were able to pull him off the tracks before a train arrived.
“We just learned First Aid this year, so I was able to keep him straight till the paramedics got there,” said Timel.