The haunted hero

Faron Hall was the kind of hero we in the news media love. And it might’ve killed him.

In May 2009, he jumped in the Red River near Manitoba and rescued Joseph Mousseau, 19, who had fallen while fooling around on the guardrail.

Hall was homeless and that was the story — the homeless hero.

Four months later, he rescued another person who had fallen in the river. Another story. This time someone set up a fund for him and he asked that it go to a homeless shelter.

And here’s the particularly heartbreaking part of his story, as told today on Maclean’s.

The following year, Faron was determined to get his life back on track and was set to graduate from an addictions program. [Faron friend Marion] Willis says Faron was considering going back to school.

But he didn’t enjoy life in the limelight and constantly being recognized. “He couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. He just believed that if somebody fell in the river and you were a good swimmer, you would go in and pull them out,” says Willis.

Faron particularly hated how the media followed his every move, especially when he would get into trouble. “Every time he slipped up for things like being picked up for being drunk or caught panhandling, it would make national headlines. It was like a public shaming for him.”

Last month, Faron’s father died and he went to attend the funeral. He had recently been released from jail after facing an assault charge. Before he left, he asked Willis to help get him into a treatment centre in Ontario. She agreed and began the process. A few days after his father’s funeral, Faron went missing and police began to search for him.

On Aug. 17, they pulled Faron’s body from the river. The police are not treating his death as suspicious.