‘I heard her screams’: Mill Bay woman rescues dump truck driver whose truck fell 6 metres into ocean

A dump truck remains in the ocean after it lost control on Frayne Road.

Nicole Dyrbye had just stepped onto her deck outside of her Mill Bay home when she heard a loud noise.

“I looked up and I saw a dump truck that was just flying down the hill,” Dyrbye said. “And there’s a corner to come onto the street behind our home and I was thinking, how are they going to make that corner?”

The driver didn’t.

The out-of-control truck barreled down the hill on Frayne Road, crossing the busy Mill Bay Road intersection, taking out a power pole and fence in its path, before flying over a retaining wall and crashing into the ocean about six metres below.

“We heard this massive crash, kind of like a plane crash in your backyard,” said Lisa Fox, who was having brunch a few houses down at the time. “It was quite loud.”

Startled by the noise, Fox went to investigate. At first, she could only see a brown circle in the water, but when Fox got closer she could see two wheels sticking out of the water. That’s when she heard it.

“I heard her screams,” she said. “It was just – so easy to just – oh my god, I got to go.”

Fox waded in to about her waist, calling out to the woman who had already crawled out from underneath her upside-down truck.

“She had open lacerations all over her face, she’s missing teeth, she was in trouble,” Fox recalled.

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Fox kept calling out to her, reassuring the woman that she was there to help. When she noticed the woman was only moving one arm, could barely swim and was starting to drift, she dove in.

“I just said, I’m committed. I just went out and swam out and just brought her into the shore as best I could,” Fox said.

Dripping wet and feeling cold, the pair walked out of the water alive and sat down on shore. A neighbour from above passed them two towels to warm up, and Fox stayed with the woman, comforting her, telling her she was amazing to have lived through that and everything was going to be OK.

Mill Bay’s fire chief was the first of his team to arrive after receiving the call at about 11:45 a.m. When Ron Beck spotted the two women sitting on the shore, he instantly felt relieved. Up until that moment, he’d been planning a rescue strategy.

“There were so many variables, it could have gone south right from the start when she lost control of the vehicle going down the hill,” Beck said.

There were a lot of risk factors, he explained, like how the driver narrowly missed a couple vehicles, could have gone through a house, the stability of the truck in the water, and the cold temperatures.

The driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to hospital by ambulance. On Thursday, one day after the incident, she was released.

BC RCMP are investigating what caused the truck to lose control, with assistance from Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE).

Beck said brake failure could be a possibility on a steep road like Frayne Road.

In the meantime, the fire chief wants to recognize Fox for her heroic actions that risked her own life, but Fox says it’s not about her, it’s about the driver.

“She’s the hero of her own story,” Fox said. “That woman crawled out from underneath a dump truck after going off a…cliff.”

“I can’t wait to meet her and buy her a whiskey,” Fox added, laughing.

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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