Man uses turban to pull drowning woman to shore

By James Peters
June 27, 2016 - 3:29pm Updated: June 28, 2016 - 1:40pm

KAMLOOPS — A Kamloops man is being credited for quick thinking in the face of cultural taboos that saved a woman adrift in the North Thompson River Saturday.

Paul Hothi and his father Avtar were working at their family farm in Heffley Creek when they heard frantic calling from the riverbank.

"The neighbours said they heard someone yelling, 'Help me! Help me!' so she waved us over, and we ran towards it, and saw a girl in the river," said Hothi.

A woman was crying for help, claiming she couldn't swim and in danger of floating further from help.

Paul says his father quickly removed his turban and used it to pull the woman to shore.

"We ran over to the river's edge, and we have some Mexican workers at my uncle's farm, we had a whole bunch of these guys over. We weren't sure what to expect. My dad was about to jump in, but we waved her closer to shore, and then my dad realized, 'I'll just take off my turban.' He threw his turban in there, used it as a rope and pulled her to shore."

Showing one's hair in public is considered improper for Sikh men.

"People say you're not supposed to remove your turban, expose your hair in public. It has some religious significance."

But Paul Hothi says, when it's case of life and death and someone needs help, those rules take a back seat.

"She was kind of in shock, and just freezing, and we didn't really question her too much. We just kind of helped her and tried to calm her down. One of the neighbours had a blanket, so we grabbed it and wrapped her up and dropped her off at her grandma's house in Heffley Creek." 

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