‘He was my saviour’: Victoria woman searching for man who pulled her from car wreckage 55 years ago

'He was my saviour': Victoria woman searching for man who pulled her from car wreckage 55 years ago
Photo: Times Colonist/1967
A more than 55-year-old photo shows the aftermath of a car crash at Mount Douglas. All these years later, Linda Petrovic is searching for the man who pulled her from the wreckage and saved her life.

A Greater Victoria woman is pleading for help from the public to find the man she refers to as her “saviour,” saying he pulled her from the wreckage of a car crash 55 years ago and saved her life.

Linda Petrovic says the crash happened at Mount Douglas in the early hours of April 1, 1967. It left her and the car’s other two occupants injured after they collided with a tree near the base of the mountain.

“If it wasn’t for that guy that came along and pulled me out of the car, I might have only lived to be 18. And here I am turning 74, and I’d really like to know who it was that pulled us out of the car,” Petrovic told CHEK News.

While she regrets not trying to find him sooner, it’s better late than never, especially as Petrovic pens personal stories for her grandchildren. They dive into important events in her life, and of course, the crash is one of them and the man’s name is the missing detail.

“When you get old and die, you’re always grandma. You’re not really a person, it’s like they can’t picture you ever being 18 or 16,” she said.

“And I just thought I would write stories of significant things that had happened throughout my life, and the accident is something that I definitely want to relay to them.”

A Times Colonist newspaper article with the headline, “Car ‘split open, shattered’ … Three Rushed to Hospital” was published after the crash. 

In a time before cellphones to call 911, it was Petrovic’s “saviour” who rushed the trio to Royal Jubilee Hospital, quite literally. As they sat in his backseat, the man was pulled over by police when caught speeding down Shelbourne Street.

“…and in the paper, it also said that the police (found out about the crash) when they pulled him over for speeding. They put the flashlight in the backseat of the car and he told them about the accident,” Petrovic said.

“The police pulled him over and they saw what he was doing, so they gave him an escort the rest of the way to the hospital.”

Petrovic was in the hospital for more than one month. She suffered several cuts to her legs, a crushed foot and a head wound which left her with memory loss.

“I have no recollection of anything until I woke up in the hospital and I heard the doctor say, ‘She’s lucky she’s on the stretcher and not in a pine box,'” she said.

The driver got 28 stitches to the forehead, while the other passenger got eight. Petrovic’s injuries were the most severe. 

“Back then, there weren’t even seatbelts in the car,” she recalled.

“I was in the middle. It was a 1957 Ford two-door hardtop. My foot got crushed between the gas pedal and the transmission, the hump that was in the middle of those old cars. The guy that rescued me, I was stuck in the car. I remember him saying that he had to pull me out.”

While most of the details are a blur, Petrovic does remember thinking the man looked young. “I was 18, so anybody over 30 or 35 was old,” she said with a laugh. “So I figured he was young.”

She also thinks the man may not have been alone, especially because “Mount Doug was sort of the make-out place, if you will…I kind of think that he was up there with somebody.”

Now, Petrovic’s just curious who he is and is hoping he’s still alive. She recently shared her story to the Facebook group Old Victoria BC, and even though the post has been shared hundreds of times, she’s had no leads.

She also thought about reaching out to Saanich Police but isn’t sure they’d still have the accident on file.

“I was going to do that,” she said, “but it was a car accident, and I don’t know whether they would have kept records for 55 years for a car accident.”

Today, Petrovic thinks the man would be around 80 years old, maybe older. 

“I mean, I would go see him anywhere. If he’s in a seniors facility or anything like that, I would go … But you know what, if I can’t do that, I would like to know his name. I would like to acknowledge him and thank him in my story to my grandchildren,” she added.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he was my saviour, so I got a lot to thank him for because I’ve been very fortunate to have my daughters and my grandchildren.

“It’s never too late to say thank you.”

If you have any leads for Petrovic, send them to [email protected]

(Times Colonist / 1967)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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