British Columbia

'A lot of mental strength': Trucker found alive 2 days after semi crash

A "seasoned" truck driver remains in life-threatening condition after his semi went over an embankment on Highway 3.

'Seasoned' driver crashed a few hours into his shift, company said

The driver was stuck in the cab of the tractor-trailer for two days. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue)

A truck driver who was rescued after spending two nights trapped in the cab of his wrecked semi was a "seasoned" driver, according to co-workers.

The man, who hasn't been identified, was only a few hours into his shift when his tractor-trailer went over an embankment in the Rhododendron Flats area of Manning Park on Tuesday night.

Doug Sutherland is vice president of the driver's company, Sutco Transportation Specialists. He said the driver was on his way to the Lower Mainland to deliver wood chips when the accident happened.

Sutherland said staff realized the man was missing when calls to his cellphone stopped going through.

Tow truck crews worked to stabilize the wreck so rescue crews could access the driver. On Friday, personnel continued to work to clear the semi from the roadside. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Hope RCMP, air services and search and rescue crews started looking for the driver on Wednesday but couldn't find the semi until Thursday morning.

The vehicle had gone down a "steep embankment," according to an RCMP statement. More than two dozen officials worked for hours to free the driver from the cab.

"I see wrecks all the time and this was a pretty serious wreck," said Colin McLean, who works with Jamie Davis Towing. "It was pretty twisted up."

Tow truck crews were called to the scene to secure the semi, so rescue crews could access the driver safely. 

"As a truck driver, it hit me pretty hard. It was a pretty scary situation to comprehend all at once," McLean said.

"To find out that this gentleman went over in the dark, stayed conscious for the light and [it] went dark again ... how he survived the cold of the two nights ... he just had a lot of mental strength. I'm sure when he heard the whistles from [search and rescue], everything changed." 

Colin McLean was one of more than two dozen rescue personnel who worked to free the driver on Thursday. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The semi driver was "groggy" but awake during the rescue, McLean said.

His legs had been "crushed" and trapped in the accident. Rescuers had to remove the transmission and cut through the floor of the upside-down semi to free him.

Adam Laurie with Chilliwack Search & Rescue said his crews were responsible for caring for the driver during his rescue.

They started an IV on-site and gave him fluids until an ambulance arrived. The driver remains in hospital in life-threatening condition.

The RCMP and the province's Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch are investigating the crash.

With files from Raffery Baker