Snowplow driver credited with saving man’s life

Daniel MacEachern
Published on January 28, 2014
Steve LeGrow points to where he says  a snowplow operator found him in a snowbank by his home in St. John’s on Boxing Day. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

A St. John’s man says his life was saved by a snowplow driver who found him unconscious early Boxing Day morning.

Steve LeGrow, 53, remembers nothing of what happened, but pieced it together from what he was told by emergency workers and hospital staff.

His last memory before waking up in the hospital Dec. 26 is of settling in at home for the evening on Christmas Eve.


Medical condition

“I remember going to bed, but that’s pretty well all I actually remembers,” said LeGrow, who added he has a medical condition — that he didn’t want to disclose — that would account for his blacking out. “They found me in a snowbank on my lawn. I don’t know how I got there.”

He was found by snowplow driver John Duke, who was widening Greenspond Drive by pushing the snowbank when he spotted LeGrow, unconscious, underneath the snow.

“He was pushing snow back on the lawn, and he noticed I was actually buried in the snow,” he said.

“He noticed my head come up out of the snow. … He radioed in, and his supervisor came. I actually stood up, but he said he couldn’t understand anything that I was saying. By now, the RNC were there. This was all related to me, because I don’t remember anything.”

Duke called his supervisor, Rick Price, who came to help, while an ambulance was called. The first thing LeGrow remembers is waking up in the hospital at 2 o’clock that afternoon, surrounded by his family.

When LeGrow didn’t show up at his girlfriend’s house Christmas Day for dinner, his son came to the house, but didn’t see him.

“More than likely I was in the snowbank at that time, buried in the snow,” he said. “He came over just after supper, maybe around six o’clock, and I wasn’t in the house. There’s all indication I may have been in the snow, buried in the snow … the worker came over and showed me exactly where he found me. I was talking to my son, and he was only maybe seven or eight feet away from me, but he still never seen me.”LeGrow spent five days in hospital recovering from frostbite — he was in danger of losing a couple of fingers. LeGrow said a doctor told him that — judging from the severity of his frostbite — he was likely outside for about 12 hours, in his pyjamas, a light coat, and rubber boots.

“The doctors were amazed, first, that I was alive, that I survived, and then they were amazed that my fingers were healed so fast,” he said. “I suppose it was a stroke of good luck, or someone was looking out for me that night.”

LeGrow said he had his driver’s licence and hospital card in his coat, so he thinks he was having difficulty with his medical condition and decided to go to the hospital.

LeGrow sent a letter to the city to thank Duke, who he said was reluctant to let his name be published. “He’s a modest man, and he don’t want no recognition,” he said.

But Duke and Price were praised at city council’s regular meeting Monday night, and Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said the men will receive letters of commendation that will also be attached to their service records.

“Apparently (Duke) spotted the individual in the snowbank and he did the right thing,” said Paul Mackey, the city’s deputy manager of public works. “He immediately got out and had a look and found out it was a person and contacted the emergency responders and they got there quickly and his foreperson responded as well and got on site, and between them they managed to get him out of the snowbank.”