Junior hockey player helps save man's life on way to recruiting visit

From this car, 20-year-old Kevin Shier and four others helped pull a man to safety. (Tom Buckel)
From this car, 20-year-old hockey player Kevin Shier and four others helped pull a man to safety. (Tom Buckel)

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Kevin Shier, a 20-year-old forward for the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, was on his way for a college recruiting visit with his father Monday when an extraordinary set of circumstances presented itself to the two travelers.

Somewhere near DeWitt, N.Y., Shier and his father came across the truck of U.S. Army National Guard Captain Timothy Neild, which had struck a concrete pillar of a bridge over the highway. Other motorists were already trying to free Neild who had lost consciousness and was pinned behind the wheel. The Shiers say they also jumped in.

Kevin Shier (Jay Johnston/OJHL Images)

More from the official site of the Lakeshore Patriots:

“It’s pretty surreal to be honest,” said Shier. “It didn’t really feel like it happened.

“We just kind of slowed down to see what it was. My dad asked if we should stop; then I said ‘yes’. You see people doing things like that on the news, but you never think it’s going to happen to you but obviously I’m glad we stopped and helped out.”

The five, including two American lawyers and another National Guardsman, pried open the stuck truck door while flames engulfed the unconscious Neild, and Kevin, together with another man, ultimately pulled the soldier well out of harm’s way.

Unbeknownst to all of them was that the truck would explode a mere 30 seconds later.

“It all happened so quickly,” Shier said over the phone, “it really felt like a dream.

“All I kept remembering afterward was that a guy was giving him CPR and was yelling at him not to (expletive) die, telling him that he had done too much for his country to go like this. That guy really kept him alive because he was as white as a sheet and personally, I thought he had already passed. It really shook me.”

According to Syracuse.com, Neild suffered broken legs and internal injuries from the fiery wreck. Sean Kirst of Syracuse.com also had more of the harrowing details of Neild’s rescue, which also identifies the American lawyers as Tom Buckel and Kevin Harrigan. Buckel, on the morning of the accident before leaving his house that day, tweeted the following:

I'd say saving someone's life is a pretty amazing act of kindness for one day.

Neild’s father wrote a grateful letter to Syracuse.com, thanking those that helped save his son’s life:

If it were not for the unselfish courage and bravery of the great men and women involved in his rescue, his life would have come to a fiery end that day.

I cannot put into words the amount of thankfulness and gratitude that our family feels for these wonderful people and the profound love we feel for those who looked death in the face and continued their efforts until he was freed from the vehicle.

According to Neild’s father, Timothy has a long road to recovery, but the prognosis is “very good.”

Shier and his father didn't stay around long. They completed the recruiting trip after that harrowing experience and instead of taking his team’s next game off to process everything, he played. Shier scored a goal and addad an assist in the Patriots' 7-1 win over the Mississauga Chargers Wednesday night, just two days after the incident.

None of us probably know how we would act in a situation like that, but it’s not surprising to see a young hockey player jump to action when presented with a situation such as this. What a courageous act from a young man and the others that saved Neild’s life. Hopefully whichever school he was going to visit takes his act of heroism into account.

CBS Sports Writer

Chris Peters has been a hockey writer for CBS Sports since 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for numerous outlets and edited the United States of Hockey blog, covering the sport at all levels. Peters also... Full Bio

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