A local woman narrowly avoided catastrophic injury — or worse — after a piece of ice was thrown off a village bridge last night, smashing through her vehicle's windshield.
At approximately 12:40 a.m. on March 15, Whistler RCMP responded to a report of a man throwing a chunk of ice off the Village Gate Bridge. The ice struck driver Jessica Purmal in the chest, spraying broken glass and debris over her and a passenger.
"It hit the car so hard that I froze for a second and put on my brakes," Purmal said. "It was a really hard impact on my chest, and I’m really lucky that I was wearing a really big scarf that cushioned the blow a little bit."
Purmal and the passenger were treated by paramedics for what ended up being minor injuries. Purmal knows it could have gone much worse.
"Honestly, if I was any shorter, or if the roof was any farther back, it probably would have caught me right in the face," she said. "I honestly count myself so lucky right now."
A witness chased after the suspect, police said, who fled south towards Earl's Restaurant before being lost from view. He is described as Caucasian, thought to be between 24 and 28 years old, approximately 6-2 in height, and wearing an orange "winter shell" jacket with the hood pulled up. The witness also told police he overhead the man speaking with an accent, possibly Australian. Police believe he may have been with three other males at the time of the incident who were also reportedly heard speaking with Australian accents.
"The police would very much like to speak to the three witnesses that saw what happened but have not come forward at this point," said Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes in a follow-up email on Friday, March 16.
Officers scoured the area, but at press time, have not been able to track down the suspect.
The incident caused significant damage to the vehicle. Purmal said the roof of the car was dented by the force of the impact, and her windshield will have to be replaced entirely.
Initially, Purmal believed the suspect was "some drunk kid throwing snowballs, not realizing how big (the chunk of ice) was." But after scanning the damage to her car today, she has a different theory.
"Seeing how large the chunks I was picking out of my car half an hour ago, after my car’s been sitting in the sun all day, there's no way he would have been able to pick (the piece of ice) up and not realize it was going to go through my windshield and do damage," she said.
The apparent callousness of the incident left Purmal with questions she hasn't found an answer to.
"I would just want to ask (the suspect) why. Why would you think to do this? Did you actually mean to do me any harm?" she said. "I have some massive questions around what his intentions were."
Whistler RCMP is requesting anyone with information on this incident to contact the detachment at 604-932-3044. Tips can also be sent anonymously to Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or visiting solvecrime.ca.
Police are also urging businesses in the area to check their security cameras for any footage that could help identify the suspect.
This story was updated Friday with more information from police.