Jonathan and Heather Hubble were on vacation in Barbados when masked men broke into the home they were renting to rob them. Jonathan was shot in the struggle. Heather performed first aid until the ambulance arrived. This photo was taken March 12, before the robbery. Jonathan and Heather Hubble
A Canadian couple has a harrowing story to tell after masked men broke into their Caribbean vacation home and shot one of them during a struggle.
Jonathan and Heather Hubble say the ordeal — in which he was shot and his wife performed first aid while waiting an hour for an ambulance — has brought them closer together, deepening their respect for each other and leaving them grateful they and their infant daughter are safe.
The Hubbles, who are both in the Army, were vacationing in Barbados last month when four masked men walked into the house they were sharing with other family members.
Heather was close to the door when the men walked in, armed with a machete and a pistol. The couple's daughter was playing on the floor. The rest of the family was upstairs.
"The first thing I could think of was my daughter was between the two of us. So I went to grab her right away. And they said stop," she told CBC News in an interview from the couple's home in Petawawa, Ont.
The man with the gun watched closely, but allowed her to pick up her daughter. She gave the men some cash and they grabbed her iPhone as they started to leave.
"Then a couple seconds later I heard a shot," she said.
'I knew I was shot'
Outside the house, Jonathan was coming down the exterior stairs, knowing nothing about the robbery. He spotted a masked man a few feet from the room where he'd just left his wife and daughter.
"In an instant I kind of reacted and started yelling at him to get out of there. And as I was yelling, I started moving towards him, he started moving towards me.
"We ended up locked hand-in-hand. When simultaneously a second and third guy came around the corner. The second guy had the gun and pointed to my chest and fired a round ... and all of that happened in the space of, I don’t know, eight seconds," he said.
"I knew I was shot," he added, describing it as like a kick to the kidney.
The bullet went into his chest between two ribs and travelled down, landing near his tailbone, where it remains. It missed all his major organs and the parts it did hit were either repaired in surgery or will recover over time. The Hubbles believe Jonathan's fitness is helping him recover from the injury.
Ambulance an hour away
The Hubbles are both career soldiers and served in Afghanistan, though they worked in the operations centre and not on the front lines.
Heather knew her husband was the only person who would have come down those stairs. She ran around the corner, clutching their daughter and trying to remember the training she'd had before deploying to Afghanistan five years ago.
"I never had to deal with any actual gunshot wounds," she said.
"I was just in shock, pretty much the whole time. It was one trauma to just deal with those guys coming in and then hearing the shot was like, I just hoped, in my head, 'well it must have just gone off in the air'."
Jonathan was leaning against the wall.
"Our daughter started to cry when she saw my face, and so at that point I yelled up at my family upstairs for somebody to come and grab our daughter," Jonathan said.
Both of them knew there wasn't much they could do without getting him to a hospital. The ambulance was an hour away — the hardest part of the ordeal, they say.
'This could be it'
Heather and Jonathan's father moved him inside the house. She started putting pressure on the hole the bullet tore in his chest, while his father spoke to him to try to keep him from going into shock.
Jonathan says it occurred to him that he could die.
"But you can’t focus on that, right? I’ve been accused of being a very positive thinker and I think you focus on the important [stuff], what you can actually do and getting through what you can actually get through at that moment. And I was quite sure that if they could get me to the hospital, I was going to be OK," he said.
"I focused on that and I didn’t focus on the occasional thoughts that came into me and said, yeah, this could be it."
Heather says she had to be positive without downplaying the danger.
"Falling apart at that moment wasn’t going to help," she said.
In the ambulance, Heather tried to keep Jonathan conscious by playing I Spy. At the hospital, and about four hours after their ordeal started, they got the prognosis that Jonathan would make a full recovery.
'It's not a bad story'
The family says they are grateful to the doctors and nurses for their treatment. And despite their most recent experience, they will return to Barbados, where Jonathan has family ties. He says he loves the island.
"It’s obviously going to always be a very sharp memory for us, but given the outcome, and given how grateful we are for how things turned out and the reactions of our family, friends, our church here ... to us, it’s not a bad story. And it worked out OK," he said.
The Hubbles are also grateful to the country's tourism board and police force, which assisted after the robbery, and the Canadian High Commission. The police arrested four men within a week of the robbery.
Heather says the incident reminded her how important it is to know first aid and know the emergency numbers wherever she's travelling.
"We hope it doesn’t happen to anybody else, but it could happen to anyone," she said.
It may seem odd to have worked for months in Afghanistan, and spend 12 years as a soldier, just to get shot on a beach vacation. But Jonathan says there's risk in many places.
For now, the Hubbles are just happy to be home, returning to normalcy three weeks after the shooting.
"We have a lot of positive focuses in our lives, you know: work and our hobbies and our little family, our daughter. So if we were to sit around and think about negative things, I think it would be a bit of a waste," Jonathan said.
Seeing his wife react, he says, reminded him how lucky he is.
"With just the strength and endurance that she had, and in the aftermath ... keeping it all together for our family and myself. It made me realize just how strong she is and how much I can rely on her.
"I’m the luckiest man on the planet."