REPORTING · 30th May 2010
UPDATE - At 5:30 am the search continued as the Terrace Water SAR were not able to positively confirm the individual was still in the submerged truck.
Tonight will be a very difficult night for one family as they morn a loss. The body of their loved one has been located but will remain in the river until daylight returns.
According to those present at the scene, at a time close to 7:30 pm Sunday evening, a truck with four occupants was travelling back towards Highway 16 and the Kitsumkalum Reserve community on the West Kalum forest road. The truck missed negotiating a corner and shot straight off the gravel road corner at a steep embankment estimated to be between 400 and 800 feet above the Kalum River. This occurred at a point 2 kilometers from the community of Kitsumkalum. Three of the occupants were able to exit the truck while the forth was carried with the vehicle down stream.
There were witnesses to the accident and to those climbing out of the river. The RCMP were immediately contacted as were the BC Ambulance service and the Terrace Search and Rescue (SAR). The Water division of the Terrace SAR was able to locate the truck with the assistance of a local fishing boat in only 23 minutes from the time they received the call. The crews secured the truck to the spot it was located almost 2 kilometres downstream from where it entered the river.
The Terrace RCMP dog team was brought in to search the banks and area in an attempt to find the last occupant who was reported to have possibly escaped the vehicle as well. The concern was he might be collapsed somewhere, unable to call for help.
Currently the Kalum River is very high and running swift. Working into the dark the Terrace Water SAR struggled to find a way to get the truck pulled closer to an access road where they could pull it from the river. They were unable, for the majority of the recovery time, to determine if anyone was still in the truck.
Kitsumkalum Fire and Rescue were on the scene assisting and attempting to find better access locations, which was unsuccessful. Teams of individuals were scoring the banks of the river and standing on the Kalum River Bridge watching for any signs or evidence of the last occupant. To the great sadness of many the last person was finally discovered still in the truck by the Terrace SAR. UPDATE - This has been retracted by Search and Rescue as they were not able to positively confirm the body had been seen in the truck.
The Coroner was called in as were others to attend to the tragedy but recovering the truck and the body safely was not possible as the light of day failed. At approximately 10:30 pm they decided to call off the recovery efforts until Monday morning. The recovery operation will resume with the use of the Jaws of Life in the raging current of the Kalum River.
The three survivors of the accident were transported to Mills Memorial Hospital. There is no word on their condition at the time of this posting.
RCMP mark off the road to conduct their investigation.
Kalum Band members and the Terrace SAR stand watch on the Kalum River bridge
Terrace Water SAR working to secure the truck and gain access
Comment by scott mcginlay on 31st May 2010
Just wanted to say that everyone involved in the search and retrieval of the truck from the river did an amazing job. Great work by all the SAR that were in and out of the water. Also wanted to say great work to Matt Clarbut on the operation of the SAR boat. Just another example of how important these individuals are to all.