After saving a young girl’s life from a near-fatal encounter, one broker stepped away from her career in insurance to serve others in a more direct capacity.
Liane Wood is a former insurance broker who is currently taking courses to become a psychotherapist. In 2013, she and her husband Rev. Dan Wood helped rescue a teenage girl who was trapped in an overturned SUV that had crashed into a river.
The incident happened one night at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Frankford, Ontario, where Dan Wood serves as a pastor. All of a sudden, a parked Nissan Juke compact SUV broke through the chain-link fence that separated the church from the river next to it. Trapped inside the runaway vehicle was 13-year-old Megan.
The car plunged into the river, where it was carried downstream until it became wedged between boulders, upside-down and submerged. Realizing they had to act immediately, Wood and her husband (a former volunteer firefighter) went to the girl’s rescue.
While Megan’s mom called for emergency aid, Wood lowered herself toward the river using a ladder from the church. The river’s current was so strong, that Wood’s husband and Megan’s father had to hold the ladder in place as Liane climbed down. Wood had to brave freezing waters that reached minus-35°C.
She managed to reach the car, but the doors were locked. After returning to the bank to retrieve an ice scraper to break the windows, Wood slipped in her attempt to smash the glass and fell into the water.
“The current was so strong there, the first responders were saying we can’t believe you weren’t swept downstream,” she told Toronto Star. “I was able to get back up and I was still beside the car.”
Her husband Dan finally joined her in the river, where they realized that the back hatch of the SUV had been open all along. It was enough to allow Megan – who had been fortunate enough to stay at the front of the vehicle in an air pocket – to swim out and toward her rescuers.
Wood’s pastor husband took Megan to the ladder, while Wood waited by the downed vehicle until her husband came back for her. By the time the pastor had returned for his wife and they were both climbing out, the first emergency crews arrived.
For their act of bravery, the Woods were awarded Medals of Bravery.
Megan survived the incident and was treated for both hypothermia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Toronto Star reported that she is now in Grade 12.
Wood was also treated with PTSD following the encounter. While waiting for her husband to come back for her and barely holding on to the collapsed vehicle, she had grimly accepted the possibility that it could be her last day.
“I just remember thinking, the last thing that I did with my girls was I prayed with them and the last thing my girls saw me do was try and help a friend and I was OK. I thought if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” she said.
Although she still receives PTSD treatment, Liane is channeling her trauma into a positive force. She quit her job as an insurance broker to focus on becoming a psychotherapist.
“It was a very good career in insurance. I just realized that nobody was going to get to the end of their lives and say, ‘I’m so glad I’ve got an insurance policy from Liane.’ I want to be someone that helps other people.”
When asked whether she would do the rescue all over again, despite the physical and mental health issues that arose from it, she said that she would.
“It was my automatic response,” she said. “Nobody has a greater claim to being alive than anyone else. Looking back at it, would I do it again? Absolutely. The alternative is standing there and doing nothing. I don’t think I could live with myself.”
Outdoorsman, volunteer worker… insurance professional
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