Fundraiser begins for Westport man injured while cutting wood

Rudy Norman
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He was rescued once, and now the community is coming to the aid of David Warren again.

The Westport man was seriously injured last week while cutting wood in the forest near his home.

He is now in hospital, and may not be able to walk again.

Warren left his house the morning of Feb. 11, as he has many mornings before, to head into the woods to cut firewood. Before he left, he told his wife, “If I’m not home by 4:30, come look for me.”

The inshore fisherman dropped by the local store and picked up a couple of files for his chainsaw, and set off just outside of town. He parked his car, jumped on his snowmobile with sleds in tow and went about a kilometre into the forest.

Harris Gavin says he was also in the woods nearby at the time with a friend, and heard Warren when he started his chainsaw.

“I said to my buddy, ‘Well, David’s in this morning, too,’” he said.

Gavin is the chief of the Volunteer Fire Department in Westport. As the day wore on, he says, they noticed they couldn’t hear Warren’s chainsaw anymore. When they came out of the woods and got to their car around 4:30 p.m., Warren’s car was still by the side of the road.

“His car was still there, and all that, but we didn’t think much of it at the time,” he said.


Heeded advice

However, at home, Warren’s wife heeded her husband’s advice. When he didn’t return home as expected late that afternoon, she and a friend set off to look for him.

Shortly afterwards, they discovered Warren trapped under a tree where he’d been cutting wood earlier that day. He had a substantial gash on his head, and hypothermia was setting in.

The two women quickly ran for help.

Gavin, at home by then, got the call about the accident.

“I took off, and my wife started in phoning other guys on the fire department,” he said.

Soon, an ambulance, RCMP officer and members of the fire department were on the scene.

Gavin and his men pulled a stretcher from the ambulance by snowmobile into where Warren was trapped.

“He was in rough shape,” Gavin said.

Warren was drifting in and out of consciousness. Gavin and the fire department volunteers managed to get the tree off him and roll him onto a sled.

“I asked him how he was doing and he said he was cold and his head hurt,” said Gavin.

After getting him on the sled, they got the injured man out of the woods and to the waiting ambulance.


Quick action

RCMP Cpl. Justin Hewlett says the action of the fire department and residents involved in the rescue should be commended. He was in Westport at the time and contacted the ambulance when he was informed about the situation.

“It was 75 minutes from the time I was informed and called the ambulance to the time the man was headed to the hospital,” he said.

Hewlett maintains that it would be a challenge to get any better result, considering the Volunteer Fire Department and members of the public travelled to where the man was, freed him and got him out safely in such a short period of time.

“It was really a testament to the great work done by the local people. They took it very seriously, and did a great job.”

Gavin says word from Warren’s family is that as a result of the accident, he is now paralyzed from the chest down.

“He’s apparently in good spirits, though,” said Gavin.

Warren will likely have to spend several months in St. John’s undergoing medical treatment and rehabilitation.

In Westport, the fire department is doing what it can to help out the man they already helped save once.

“They’re going to need a lot of support right now, and we want to give them that,” said Gavin.

They’re starting a fundraising campaign to aid the Warrens, who now face the costs associated with being in St. John’s and with home renovations that may be needed when Warren returns home.

“We’d do it for anyone,” said Gavin. “We have a special bank account set up and people can contribute whatever they can to help out.”

Donations can be emailed, said Gavin, to or at any Scotiabank using the account number 805230136182.


The Nor’wester

Organizations: Volunteer Fire Department, RCMP, Scotiabank

Geographic location: Westport

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