British Columbia

Kelowna man escapes fiery truck explosion — with a little help from his new friend

Shea Kearns said he feels lucky to be alive after he crashed his truck during a snowstorm in Kelowna, B.C., last week and had it blow up just moments after he got out.

Slippery conditions in a snowstorm led to crash and fire

Shea Kearns's truck is shown after it caught fire and exploded following an accident during snowy and slippery conditions in Kelowna, B.C., on Nov. 7, 2022. (Shea Kearns)

Shea Kearns said he feels lucky to be alive after he crashed his truck during a snowstorm in Kelowna, B.C., last week and had it blow up just moments after he got out.

In particular, Kearns is thankful for the actions of fellow motorist Jennifer Kerr, who stopped to help him on that wintry Nov. 7 morning.

As Kearns was sitting in his vehicle — its nose in the ditch on the side of Longhill Road — Kerr screamed in his direction that the vehicle's undercarriage was lighting up.

Kearns, who was later diagnosed with a concussion from the impact of the crash, managed to climb out of the truck.

And within seconds of him getting out and walking away, an explosion ripped the hood off behind him.

"It was incredible," Kearns told CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton. "When the accident first happened, I was like, 'Maybe I've got a buddy that's got a chain that could kind of pull me out.' I kind of felt that there was a little bit of smoke but I thought that was just from the accident.

"If it wasn't for Jennifer, I'd be burnt just like my truck was."

Kearns had remained in the truck after making a call for roadside assistance.

Kelowna's Shea Kearns says he feels lucky to be alive after escaping a truck explosion on Nov. 7, 2022. (Shea Kearns)

Snowfall warning was in effect at time of crash

Environment Canada had issued a snowfall warning throughout the southern Interior that day, including in Kelowna. Temperatures at the time were slightly below freezing, making for slippery driving conditions. On top of that, gusting winds were blowing the snow around, creating poor visibility.

Prior to the accident, Kearns had been making a delivery for a customer and turned the steering wheel to avoid another vehicle.

"A car was kind of swerving into my lane, so I had to think on my toes, and ditched my truck," he said.

'That dude is definitely Bruce Willis'

For Kerr, who lives in nearby Vernon and was on her way to work, the sight of Kearns getting away from the vehicle just before it exploded seemed like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster.

"Shea was literally like living in a Bruce Willis action movie," Kerr said. "I'm like, 'What the heck? That dude is definitely Bruce Willis' because he was walking so slowly."

Afterwards, Kerr brought Kearns back to her car and the two stayed together for a couple of hours while emergency vehicles were on the scene.

Eventually, Kerr gave Kearns a ride home.

As a result of the crash, Kearns also has minor back and shoulder injuries.

"That's all fixable," he said. "I'm very lucky that I wasn't in the vehicle when it exploded."

Kelowna-man Shea Kearns credits Jennifer Kerr with saving his life after his truck ended up in a ditch and caught on fire during last week's snow storm


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