A passerby with a satellite phone may have saved the life of a driver who was swept away in their car in a washout early Monday morning along Highway 20 near Williams Lake.

RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson said the road gave way around 3:00 a.m. PT, sending both the vehicle and the driver down an embankment and into rushing waters below.

Highway 20 washout

A driver had to be rescued after a car was swept away in this washout of Highway 20, 25 kilometres west of Williams Lake. (@TranBC_Cariboo)

"The one occupant, the lone occupant, has been pulled safely from the river," said Saunderson. "At this time we are out looking to see if there are any more vehicles or people unaccounted for."

Saunderson said the RCMP was alerted to the incident by someone in the area who saw the car go down the embankment.

She said there is no cell coverage in the area, but the witness happened to have a satellite phone.

"Communication is very limited at best in that area. The person that was there with the satellite phone happened to be in the right place at the right time," said Saunderson.

Highway 20 is now closed in both directions about 25 kilometres west of the Highway 97 junction, about half a kilometre past the Sheep Creek Bridge which crosses the Fraser River.

The washout is approximately 150 metres wide.

According to DriveBC, there is now an alternate route available.

Highway 20 is the main road in and out of Bella Coola and many smaller communities including Anahim Lake and Hagensborg.