Two B.C. Samaritans Help Women

IT CAN BE dangerous being a good Samaritan. Just ask gas-station attendant Kevin Venn, 20, of Richmond, B.C., viciously beaten after he tried to intervene in a violent dispute between a man and a woman. Or Don Miller, 48, of nearby Port Moody: his early-morning drive became a desperate race to get a woman to safety - with the man she had been running from shooting at them.

Miller was in his wife's Honda Accord when, at 6:15 a.m. on Aug. 9, he saw Martina Seymour, 34, struggling with Antonio Pinheiro, with whom she had just broken up after a tense and sometimes violent relationship. Pinheiro, 47, was trying to pull her down a hill on the other side of the road, but Seymour managed to break free and run. As Pinheiro fired a handgun at her, Miller, who is the chief operating officer at the Vancouver law firm Alexander Holburn Beaudin & Lang, honked his horn to get her attention. She made it to his car.

Miller's passenger-side window was shot out as he started to drive off, but he managed to get Seymour, who had been hit four times, to an ambulance station. Pinheiro, meanwhile, led police on a six-kilometre high-speed chase, firing at them from his vehicle before being rammed off the road by a police car and dying in a shootout. Miller was humble about his heroics. Saving Seymour, he said, "involved people all over the place." Police and paramedics told a different tale: Miller had saved Seymour's life.

Miller escaped without injury, but Venn was not as lucky. On July 31, after he tried to help a woman involved in a violent altercation with a man, he was attacked, and remembers nothing before waking up in a hospital bed the next day, his skull fractured, his jaw broken, and with deep cuts on his face and head. His alleged assailant, Christopher Edmunds, 21, was charged last week with aggravated assault and then released on bail. After the incident, Venn said he didn't regret his actions. "Don't turn a blind eye," he told reporters. Last week he could no longer comment on his ordeal - his jaw has been repaired but wired shut for six weeks.

Maclean's August 23, 2004