As It Happens

B.C. man, 90, saved by teens after being stranded on logging road for 3 days

Two teenagers are being hailed as heroes after saving Paul Jones, who was stranded for three days inside his car on a logging road along B.C.'s Sunshine Coast.

Paul Jones survived in car with bottle of water and jar of cashew nuts

Left to right: Jakob Thornton, Paul Jones and Nolan Johnston meet at Pender Harbour Secondary School in October. Johnston and Thornton saved Jones, 90, when he was stuck in his car on a logging road in Pender Harbour, B.C. (Chris Lekakis)


Two teenagers are being hailed as heroes after saving a man who was stranded for three days inside his car along B.C.'s Sunshine Coast.

Nolan Johnston and Jakob Thornton were riding their dirt bikes down a logging road in Pender Harbour when they encountered an SUV teetering perilously over a steep ditch.

Paul Jones, 90, was inside the vehicle. He was out for a drive in the the back country when his car ran over an unstable part of the dirt road and got stuck.

After briefly getting out and surveying the situation, he soon realized there wasn't much else he could do but get back into his car and wait for help to arrive.

"I was in dire straits," Jones told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"I realized that this was a pretty bad situation to be in, and I'd better not try to move the car any more, otherwise it might tip over onto its left side into the ditch, which was about six feet below me."

Paul Jones's car teetering over a ditch in Pender Harbour, B.C. Jones remained in his car for three days before being saved by two teenagers passing by. (Ruth Jones)

Even if he managed to get out, he didn't like his chances of traversing the treacherous terrain alone.

"I might have walked out, but being 90 years old, I'm not that good a walker," he said. "I think I was up there around five miles ... that was too much for me, I think."

The only food or drink he had with him were a half-full bottle of water and a jar of cashew nuts.

"That was wonderful," he said about the nuts. "It saved my life, I think."

At one point he dropped the jar, which then fell underneath his driver's seat.

"I leaned over towards [the jar] and the car started to tip into the ditch. I thought, I better not do that any more," he said.

Rescuers arrive

By the second day, his car battery had died, and he had finished the water. On the third day, Jones slightly opened up the sun roof, in the hope of catching rainwater from a gathering storm. 

That's when Johnston and Thornton came riding by.

I couldn't thank them enough. I said over and over how glad I was for them coming by.- Paul Jones

"I was so delighted to see them that I banged quite vigorously on the window, which I'd been unable to put up or down for several hours," said Jones.

"They went by me about 40 miles an hour, and I was very much afraid that I might have missed them, but the second fellow heard me banging on the window and came along back."

Johnston and Thornton carefully opened the car door and called police.

"He looked real pale and super weak and couldn't really talk and couldn't keep his head up," Johnston told the Coast Reporter.

Because of the unstable nature of the road, rescue crews had to trek "at least a mile and a half," before reaching the car, Jones estimated.

Nolan Johnston and Jakob Thornton, 16, are students at Pender Harbour Secondary School in B.C. (Pender Harbour Secondary School/Submitted by Chris Lekakis)

Jones met with the two teens at Pender Harbour Secondary School to express his thanks. The three then went out for dinner at a local pub, which treated them all on the house.

"I couldn't thank them enough. I said over and over how glad I was for them coming by," he said.

B.C. Premier John Horgan sent a note thanking Johnston and Thornton as well.

"You both demonstrated compassion and levelheadedness in a stressful situation, possibly saving a man's life. You have made your school, community and province very proud," Horgan wrote.

Jones said the entire ordeal taught him a valuable lesson. 

"Let folks know where the hell you're going if you're going into the bush like that," he said.

Written by Jonathan Ore. Produced by Katie Geleff.


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