For the second time in less than a week local emergency crews were called to rescue a driver and vehicle plunged into a river.
A woman was rescued Thursday from the Lillooet River after she drove off Airport Road near the Pemberton Valley golf course. The woman, in her early 50s who prefers to remain unnamed, had been heading to the golf course for lunch when she suffered a momentary black out and her vehicle landed in the river.
The truck travelled about 30 metres in the fast current but become wedged in a log jam, according to Pemberton fire chief Russell Mack, who arrived on scene with firefighters within six minutes of receiving the call around 1 p.m. The driver had climbed into the truck’s box as the front end of the vehicle started to sink.
Pemberton fire department were launching their Zodiak inflatable boat into the river when Darryl Kincaid from Pemberton Adventure Ranch arrived from upstream in the ranch’s 25’ 12-passenger jet boat.
Kincaid, who is a Whistler Search and Rescue volunteer, along with Pemberton Search and Rescue member Jen Paddock, brought the jet boat alongside the truck that was about 10 metres from shore in two-metre deep water.
“We just nosed the boat up there, threw her a life jacket, the woman put it on, and Jen assisted her on to the bow of our boat and that was it,” Kincaid said.
Chief Mack said the wide Lillooet River has a deceptively strong current.
“It pulls pretty good. Luckily the truck hooked up on that log or otherwise it would have kept on going.”
The truck was towed from the river that afternoon.
RCMP Cpl Paul Vadik described the rescue operation, which took less than 10 minutes to complete, as miraculous.
“A very efficient response from everyone,” Vadik said. “Two thumbs up to the Pemberton Fire and Rescue for their swift water rescue training. Everyone knew what their roles and responsibilities were,” he said. “You don’t want to have your signals crossed in a time of crisis.”
On Monday three occupants of a vehicle that plunged into Callaghan Creek, seven kilometres south of Function Junction, waited over an hour until firefighters received permission from Whistler’s fire chief to undertake the rescue.
Chief Bruce Hall had ceased swift water rescues for Whistler fire department this spring, citing low frequency of incidence in relation to costs of maintaining training for members’ certification.
All three occupants of the vehicle in Callaghan Creek were rescued safely.