Five months after helping to save the lives of a Florida couple involved in a horrific motorcycle accident on a lonely stretch of road in rural Wyoming, Kelowna’s Craig Monley and his wife Elaine Methot have been reunited with the man and woman they helped.
Following a lengthy search by the Florida couple, Jeff and Jeri Hamilton, to find the “angels” who saved their lives, Monley and Methot connected with the Hamiltons by phone Saturday.
“There was an immediate affinity,” said Monley adding the Hamiltons wanted to personally thank the Canadian couple.
The Hamiltons had been told by police they believed the couple who helped them were from Alberta, and, as a result, Monley and Methot—whose names were not known to the Hamiltons—were dubbed the “Alberta Angels.”
In August 2015, Monley, the former long-time director of the Central Okanagan Boys and Girls Club, and his wife Elaine were heading home from visiting his ill mother in Denver.
As they drove their motorhome along the undulating road traversing the open Wyoming plain, they saw a motorcycle heading toward them on the crest of the hill ahead.
There were two riders on board.
Suddenly the motorcycle swerved and crashed, with both riders being thrown off, one into the ditch and the other into the path of the flying bike.
It was later discovered the cause of the crash was a blown back tire.
Monely who had extensive first-aid training during his working years with the Boys and Girls Club, immediately pulled over, grabbed his first aid kit and with his wife ran to help.
“The initial reaction is, ‘Are we seeing what we think we are seeing?,” said Monley. “Then it’s: ‘Oh, my God. Are they dead?’ There were pieces flying everywhere.”
Despite that, he said the magnitude of the situation did not immediately set in as he and Methot set about tending to the badly injured couple.
“I remember running up to Jeff and saying, “Thank God you’re alive.’”
“Only after we were back in our motorhome (after the incident) heading back did we realize that.”
Both the Hamiltons were very badly injured, with Jeri losing flesh from her arm and her knees as well as an assortment of other injuries.
Jeff was also in bad shape, with severe facial injuries, as well as damage to his shoulder and ribs.
Monley later learned Jeff Hamilton had sustained what was described as “a lot of breakage,” likely caused in part by being hit by the motorcycle during the crash.
The Kelowna couple administered first aid and what other assistance they could, giving the Hamiltons water, soothing them as they were conscious throughout, assuring them help was coming and, at one point, even using Monely’s golf umbrella to help shelter the injured pair from the blistering sun while they waited for medics to arrive.
They last saw the Hamiltons being loaded into an ambulance.
But despite what many would consider their heroic efforts, neither Monley not Methot want to be known as, or consider themselves, heroes.
“I would like to think it’s what anyone would do,” said Monely. “I would like to think anyone would do what they could.”
And that appeared to be that.
But after what Monley called a “fluke”—a friend of his saw a picture of Jeri Hamilton who looks very like a mutual friend of theirs, heard the Florida couple was looking for the Canadians who helped them and contacted the mutual friend—they were contacted. The mutual friend remembered Monley and Methot saying they helped a couple in a motorcycle crash in Wyoming this past summer and passed on the information.
Monley, who is also a motorcycle rider, said the two couples talked for nearly two hours Saturday night and plan to meet up, in person, at the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, later this year.
For the Hamiltons, the long road back to health is far from over.
Jeff is still recovering and Jeri has yet more surgeries to undergo, having had her arm basically reconstructed.
But they owe their lives to the Kelowna couple and wanted so badly to find them and express their gratitude in person.
For Monley, the pay off is that the Hamiltons are alive today.
“For me, that’s what really counts,” he said.