Family of London doctor with roots in South Valley talk about his heroic actions during terror attack

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Charles, a family doctor in London, had just left a conference and was riding his bike when he saw a vehicle speeding towards him. (KFSN)

David and Agnes Heaney said their son Charles would give his heart for anybody. So while shocked to learn where he was on Wednesday, the Visalia couple was not surprised by the actions he took.

"He's very compassionate, very caring, and he would spend hours with patients," said Agnes Heaney, Charles Heaney's mother.

They said Charles, a 44-year-old family doctor in London, had just left a conference and was riding his bike when he came to a stop at a red light. It was then that he saw a vehicle speeding towards him, plowing over pedestrians, so Charles quickly moved out of its path.

"If the light had been green, they would have been hit," said Agnes.

Charles was lucky, but many others weren't. Several people, including a police officer, died in the terror attack carried out by a native of the United Kingdom, who was shot to death at the scene-- dozens more were injured.

"He said it was a disaster. He'll never get over that sight. But you know, he's been trained for that, he has seen some terrible things happening in hospitals in London, as you can imagine," said Agnes.

Charles, his parents say, wasted no time attending to victims after his close call. He dialed 999, the US equivalent of 911, then checked on those with major and minor injuries nearby.

"We are very proud of the fact that he went back and looked after the people," said Agnes.

Charles was born in Canada, but called Visalia home for 10 years, attending Willow Glen Elementary and St. Paul's School. He attended boarding school in Ireland, but would return to Visalia frequently. His parents say he has fond memories of growing up here, and returns when he is able to.

"Now this is the second time that he's in a situation where it's a life and death situation, and I'm worried about a third time now," said Agnes.

What happened to their son in London was deeply unsettling, but what is comforting is knowing there will always be people like him helping fellow humans in times of terror-- time and time again.

David and Agnes plan to celebrate their son's wedding in Ireland this summer. They say he returns to Visalia about once a year.

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societylondonvisaliaterror attacktulare countyVisalia
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