A Cold Lake man received the Carnegie Medal last Thursday, the highest civilian honour in North America, which is given to people who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree attempting to save the lives of others. Kenny Stead, a 46-year-old cable installer for an internet company, remembers June 13, 2018, quite well…
“I was just getting home from work. I pulled into the driveway. My mind was set on supper and stuff like that. And how quickly things could change because a little kid came running down the sidewalk, no shoes on his feet, and he’s screaming, ‘call 911 my mom’s boyfriend is going to kill her’,” said Kenny Stead.
“It was a shock at first and then I brought him into the house. I passed on my phone, I called 911 and made sure they were on the phone with him. My wife still didn’t know what was going on.
“Then I ended up running over there and got up on the step and I can hear a thumping sound. I banged on the door, rang the doorbell. And this took probably about 30 seconds. And then finally he came and he ripped the door open. I go in and I looked down and I can see her head by the chesterfield, she was laying down. I called out to her about three or four times, I asked her ‘are you okay?’ with no response. The first thing that came to my mind was she was gone. That’s what I thought.
“So finally on the fourth time I called out to her, and she said ‘No, I’m not okay.’ So I stepped into the main door. I told her to come towards me. So she managed to get her body up. He was in between me and her. He had his back against the wall. My concentration was on her as she was bringing her body towards me, and then he lunged at me.
“I thought he punched me. So anyway, I never felt anything. And at that, she jumped up and she ran. She barricaded herself off in the bathroom on the main floor. He took off, he went up the stairs. And that’s when I realized I was stabbed, I was stabbed in the stomach on the left side. I back down out of the premises, went down and ran over to the house and I told my wife that I’ve been stabbed.
‘It happened so quick’
Stead was rushed to the hospital by his wife, who was still on the phone with 911 with the child. Once they got there, Stead fell unconscious on the floor and within 45 minutes lost litres of blood.
He then went into surgery.
“I can remember bits and pieces. They came and they put me on the gurney, rushed me back into the hospital or into the emergency room. They assessed me, that’s when they noticed that I was pooling blood inside. They knew that it was serious. The doctor was ready to go. The anesthesiologist was ready to go. It was absolutely amazing. It happened so quick.
“Then before I knew it, I was going up on the third floor. Then at 11 o’clock at night I woke up, and I had surgery done and I was alive. I found out afterwards that within that 45 minutes, I lost five-and-a-half litres of blood, they needed to give me a litre of plasma and five-and-a-half litres of blood in order to get me to come back.
“So yeah, I was kind of lucky.”
Trained as a firefighter, Stead has been in positions like this before.
He also understands the emotions of rushing toward danger and he found himself able to come to terms with those emotions of being close to the brink.
“I was angry. I was very angry to a point of where I was hoping to get my hands on that point of view. But there’s another point of view that I knew–that that’s not a way human beings supposed to be. So within no time, I actually forgave him. Like, personally, I forgave him. I don’t know what was going through for him to think that he had to go to that route.
“But for me, you got to learn to let go, right? Because if you can’t go around with hatred in your body for the rest of your life, you got to give up. You got to give it up,” said Stead.
“Luckily, I was the one that got injured, which I can live with that. I’m just glad that she’s able to be alive and be there for kids.”
Stead was recognized locally by the Cold Lake RCMP with a Certificate of Bravery in the spring of 2019.
A local Mountie submitted his name to be considered by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, which was established in 1904 to recognize heroism in the United States and Canada.
When he found out last week that he was among 17 recipients of the honour this year, he was shocked.
“I got a phone call from a guy named Chris from down in Pennsylvania in the States. He called me up and wanted to get some more information. And then all of a sudden, last week, he contacted me and he says, ‘you’re one of the ones that are getting chosen for the award.'”
“I was working when he called and set me back. I was blown away. From what I understand, this is a very honourable award. I was pretty set back about it,” said Stead.
For people inspired by his story, or who don’t know how they would respond in those rare moments of needed action, Stead says we all can play a small part.
“Every single one of us can be a hero. I mean, just by being on the bus and giving your seat up to a pregnant woman or an elderly person to let them sit down–that’s a hero right there.
“Or to hold the door open for somebody. If you see somebody at the cash register, and they don’t have enough cash to pay for the groceries, and they got to put stuff back–to step up and say, ‘Hey, listen, I’ll pay for the rest of it.’ That’s a hero right there. I mean, we can all be heroes.”