But Monday during routine work the probing claw of an excavator dredged away mud and rock to reveal the roof of a truck buried since the Rutherford Creek Bridge washed out in a torrential flood Oct. 18, 2003.
Initially it was hoped that the truck was the vehicle carrying Ed Elliott and Jamie Burnette, who were swept away the night the bridge collapsed. Their bodies have never been recovered.
But it was soon discovered that the Isuzu Trooper was in fact a Pemberton vehicle reported stolen around the time of the flood.
"We can confirm that there is one body in the truck, but there is no confirmation that it is a male or female," RCMP Cst. Michelle Nisbet said Tuesday.
However, sources have told Pique Newsmagazine that the occupant was a new resident to Pemberton in 2003 who is believed to have robbed a local gas station after being hired to work there. He then fled town in the stolen vehicle.
But he never made it out of the corridor. He and the stolen truck apparently plunged into the raging waters of the creek the night the bridge washed out. The person has never been reported missing.
Police have confirmed that the vehicle contained items associated with the theft of the local business, which took place in the early hours of Oct.18, 2003.
The Vancouver Coroner’s office is carrying out an investigation of the remains and DNA will be used to help confirm the identity of the driver.
"We are quite confident that we will be able to find out who it is," said Nisbet.
Police had no additional information as Pique went to press Wednesday.
This week’s discovery brings the death toll from the 2003 bridge washout to five. In addition to Elliott and Burnette, Daryl Stevenson and Mike Benoit were killed when their vehicle plunged into the swollen creek. Their bodies were recovered.
A third person in the vehicle with Elliott and Jamie Burnette, Jamie’s brother Casey, managed to survive the tragedy.
Earlier this year Jamie Burnette’s widow, Katie, filed a suit against the provincial government, Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish and several other defendants on behalf of her son Cole, who is now 18 months old.