Someone lifted Ayotte into the back of the truck and drove him to the hospital about a kilometre away. “They whisked me into the emergency room and started working on me,” Ayotte said. The ER doctors put him under. When he woke up, he was 1,000 kilometres south in a Winnipeg hospital.
As soon as he woke, Ayotte asked the attending nurse, “Was I able to save the woman?”
“She’s in the next room,” the nurse said.
“Is she all right? Ayotte asked.
“She’s fine. They’re going to release her tonight.”
Greene came into Ayotte’s room that evening. Without his eyeglasses and groggy from drugs, Ayotte couldn’t see her very well and he doesn’t remember much of their conversation. He does remember telling her that he was happy to see her, and satisfied he’d been able to save her.
Ayotte spent a week in the Winnipeg hospital where doctors stitched and stapled the many lacerations on his body. He also underwent a four-hour surgery with a plastic surgeon. “He was able to put my ear back on,” Ayotte said.
He returned to Churchill a local hero.
Though Ayotte would see Greene around town in the years that followed, their brief and blurry hospital room exchange was the only time the two survivors ever spoke about their experience. “I don’t want to bring things back up,” Ayotte said. “It could be more devastating to her than for me.” Just like on that terrible morning, Ayotte cared more about Greene’s wellbeing than his own.