British Columbia

'I'm not dying this way': Kelowna father describes swimming to safety after truck slides into icy lake

Ryan Bremner, a B.C. logger and father of two, is sharing his story of survival after his truck slid off the road into an icy lake.

How an accident that could have been fatal changed Ryan Bremner's life

A team works to recover the truck that Ryan Bremner was in, when he slid down a 45-metre embankment into a freezing cold lake. (Ryan Bremner)

Ryan Bremner is lucky to be alive after having an experience he says has given him a deeper appreciation for life.

It was late afternoon on Dec. 14, 2016 and Bremner was driving to Valemount from a logging site he had been working at, when his truck slid off an icy road, 45 metres​ down into Kinbasket Lake.

"It was a pretty crazy ride," Bremner said.

Bremner says, as he came around a corner, he knew he was going to go over the embankment.

"Once I realized I was going over the bank, I braced myself," he said.

After rolling several times as it went down the embankment, his vehicle became submerged under water, and he says he realized he had just seconds before the cab would soon be full.

Bremner says he held his breath and climbed out the driver-side window.

"I told myself, I'm getting out of here. I'm not dying this way."

Bremner, 36, says his family, including two young children, inspired him to fight for his life.

The shore was nine metres away, and he was wearing heavy snow pants, a heavy winter jacket and steel-toed boots.

"Weight wasn't a concern of mine. I was just in survival mode," he said.  

He didn't know it at the time, but his shoulder was separated. He still managed to swim to shore.

Bremner's colleagues were travelling 20 kilometres behind him, so he knew he'd have to get up the bank fast to catch their attention, as they drove by.

They were the last trucks that would be travelling the road that night, so if he didn't get up in time, he would be stranded in –25 C weather, in his wet snow gear.

Luckily, a colleague spotted him and stopped to help out. Bremner says it was all over in about 35 minutes.

Ryan Bremner's truck was submerged under the lake. He says he pushed his head and chest out the window in order to get out before the cab filled with water. (Ryan Bremner)

Bremner was taken to the Valemount Hospital where doctors spent an hour warming him up and then sent him to the McBride Hospital by ambulance for further assessment.

His says his hands were red from frostbite. There were a few cuts on his head and his shoulder was separated.

Bremner says the experience has changed his life. Having worked in logging for over 10 years, he often forgets about the risks associated with the job.

"I just appreciate the little things a lot more," he said.

"I felt like Superman going through all of this, because I wasn’t going to give up," Bremner told CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. (Ryan Bremner)

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

To hear the audio, select the left-hand link Kelowna father and logger survives horrific crash, shares story