Grabbing the grey-haired Asian lady with one hand, he balls up a fist behind him and gets ready to punch her.
It’s April 27, 2015 at a strip mall at Fraser Highway and 152 Street and the elderly woman is screaming for help.
At least four people are looking on.
Michael Barbillion, 54, doesn’t remember giving much thought to what happens next.
Charging toward the pair, he sees the Asian woman is now on the ground. Her attacker is in the woman’s car and Barbillion grabs hold of him.
“You’re coming with me,” Barbillion barks, as he pulls at James Neil Kelly, who is maintaining an iron grip on the steering wheel.
The Asian woman grabs onto of Barbillion’s back in an attempt to get her purse back from her assailant, a distraction Barbillion doesn’t need while trying to pry the man from her vehicle.
Then, he has a horrifying realization: The engine in the car is running.
Time slows to a crawl.
Wheels scream and blue smoke billows from the tires as the vehicle roars into reverse.
The driver’s side door, which is open, smashes Barbillion’s jaw, dislocating it, and the front tire runs over his ankle and up his legs, separating both knees.
When the car begins to turn, the wheels are on a trajectory for Barillion’s torso and head.
He remembers bending into an L-shape to save his life.
The undercarriage of the car catches Barbillion’s pant leg and he is dragged for about 20 feet.
This, he feels, is the end.
All he can think about is his daughter, who is turning nine in a few days.
While telling this story to The Leader, Barbillion chokes up. The thought of missing out on watching his daughter grow up is too much to bear.
“I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to make it,’ ” Barbillion recalls.
He hears the car lurch into forward gear and watches it narrowly miss him as it tears off.
More than a year after the incident, Barbillion is still learning to walk again, requires therapy to cope with the memories, and seldom sleeps well because he grinds his his teeth at night. When his knees touch, the pain is excruciating.
After the stolen car took off, it bounced off a curb, smashed into a vacant vehicle, and was stopped by police at 104 Avenue and 152 Street, about a two kilometres away from where Kelly attacked the Asian senior.
Kelly, 59, was charged and found guilty of robbery, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
He was sentenced 39 months in jail, given a five-year driving prohibition and a lifetime prohibition of possessing a firearm.
The elderly woman sustained only minor injuries and Barbillion’s act of bravery didn’t go unnoticed.
He was recognized last Wednesday (June 8) at the annual Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge awards.
In all, 156 awards were handed out to police officers, support staff and civilians who performed heroic actions and outstanding service to the community. In addition to Barbillion, they include:
• Two police officers who rescued a suicidal youth who was hanging precariously upside-down from a bridge;
• An auxiliary constable who nabbed a suspect after a violent stabbing on a bus;
• Two municipal employees who spotted someone switching licence plates in a parking lot, leading to the arrest of a bank robber;
• An officer who spends his time off driving to Mexico and back to build houses and schools with a volunteer organization.
“Every year, we take the time to celebrate the men and women who have demonstrated tremendous heroism and outstanding service to our community,” said Surrey RCMP’s Officer in Charge, Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy. “This is an opportunity to highlight the excellent work being done by those in our detachment and in our community who are making this city a great place to live, work and play.”