Two Chilliwack men who rescued the driver of a dump truck last year, after the vehicle sped off Highway 1 and went into a frigid creek, will be given awards for their bravery.
Scott Bridge and Dan Coulter (not Chilliwack’s MLA) will be two of the 17 recipients of the Rescue Awards from the Lifesaving Society (B.C. and Yukon branch) at the 111th annual Honour and Rescue Award Ceremony on Saturday, April 1.
It was more than a year ago, on Jan. 14, 2022, when the tragic collision happened right before their eyes. They were both travelling south in separate vehicles on Young Road in Chilliwack at around noon when they saw it happen.
A dump truck heading westbound came barrelling down the Highway 1 offramp at about 80 or 90 kilometres an hour. The driver swerved to the left to avoid hitting a pickup truck stopped at a stop sign, went across Young Road and landed in the frigid water of Chilliwack Creek.
Both Bridge and Coulter quickly pulled over to the side of the road, jumped out of their vehicles and ran to the dump truck. They shouted down to the driver from the side of the road, but there was no response.
Bridge went down the steep embankment, blackberry bushes scratching at him as he went, while Coulter crawled along the box of the truck toward the cab. They peered in the cab but no one was there.
The driver was ejected from the cab and he was completely submerged in the water.
The two spotted him about a foot under the surface of the murky creek. Coulter saw the driver’s hand, Bridge saw the driver’s face with his eyes still open underwater.
“He was pinned underwater,” Bridge said.
Coulter grabbed the driver and pulled his head above water.
The driver had suffered a major head injury, but he was awake and trying to speak. He made noises, but no words came out of his mouth.
The two hauled the man most of the way out, the bottom half of his legs still in the icy water.
The driver made small movements with his head and arms, and then reached out squeezed Bridge’s hand.
“He was still with us,” Coulter said.
They held onto him tightly as more people helped from up on the road, including an off-duty RCMP officer. One driver had a ratchet strap in his vehicle. He tossed one end of it down so they could put it underneath the driver’s armpits for support.
About five minutes later, paramedics and firefighters arrived.
Crews used a ladder and a spineboard to bring the man out of the ditch. He was taken to the Chilliwack Airport where he was later transferred to an Air Ambulance.
Thanks to their selfless actions that day, Bridge will receive the MG Griffiths Award and the Silver Medal for Bravery. Coulter will also receive a Silver Medal for Bravery.
The awards ceremony will be held at the Michael J Fox Theatre in Burnaby on Saturday, April 1.
Each year this prestigious ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate the heroism and bravery of aquatic rescuers in B.C. and Yukon. The Lifesaving Society (also known as Royal Life Saving Society) is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to reduce water-related death and injury. The society has been educating the public and training lifesavers and lifeguards in B.C. since 1911.