A father from Burnaby, BC, who managed to save his son from drowning last weekend has died in hospital.
The loss of Bakir Junaideen on Wednesday left a big hole in the hearts of his family and friends.
“I’m not OK inside because Bakir was the man for me. He was everything for me,” said Farzana Abubakker, his wife of 23 years.
The pair married in Sri Lanka before moving to Canada.
Two decades and two children later, they were still happily married before his life was tragically cut short.
On Sunday, the family went to Davidson’s Pool, a popular swimming hole in Maple Ridge, and there was a tubing mishap.
The couple’s nine-year-old son Zaid fell, and Junaideen rushed to help him.
“He was drowning and he pushed me to a shallow end but it was still pretty deep,” Zaid said. “So then somebody helped me and put me on a floatie. And they couldn’t find my dad.”
Junaideen sank underwater for more than seven minutes, until Rob Payne, a nearby resident, dove into the river and pulled him out.
Payne and a few strangers tried to resuscitate him before an ambulance arrived.
“It was a heavy day,” he told CTV News.
“I fell on the ground and all I could do was just pray right there,” said Abubakker.
“I’m a Muslim and I have Muslim faith. All I asked was just ‘Give me my husband back,’ because I need him for my sons,” she continued.
At 57 years old, Junaideen left a mark on the community, his wife said.
She was impressed to see hundreds of people visiting him in the hospital while he was on life support.
She described Junaideen as someone who was humble, honest, creative and soft-spoken.
“Not just a hero in the way that he died, but in the way that he lived. He was a legend. A legend of a human,” said family friend Renu Goodenough. “He really loved his kids. He was so proud of his family.”
Now a single mother, Abubakker and her family are looking for financial support.
Junaideen’s nephew Mohamed Razi launched a GoFundMe on the family’s behalf and has raised more than $45,000 so far.
A funeral is planned for Junaideen on Sunday near Deer Lake.