RCMP say that a medical event may have caused the driver of a semi truck to careen off the Island Highway and into a home in Nanoose Bay Monday afternoon.
Police, firefighters and paramedics were called to a home in the 2400-block of Island Highway East just before 2 p.m. Monday after the truck hit the home.
None of the six people living in the home were there at the time, but neighbour Matt Parenteau said he, Paige Lunn and her baby were shocked when the truck smashed through a fence and narrowly missed their home.
Parenteau rushed to see if he could help the driver and found the truck was leaking diesel.
“At that point, I started climbing through the rubble and I could hear muffled screams, screaming, screaming,” said Parenteau. “So I remember actually saying to the guy ‘don’t worry, don’t worry, we’ll find you, we’ll get you out.'”
Fire crews arrived soon after but even with many hands, getting the driver out was a monumental task.
“It was a good team effort by everybody involved to get the driver out, it was difficult access, kind of just difficult overall,” said Capt. Cody Nielsen of Nanoose Bay Fire Department.
“The truck was hauling pulp, paper, so the load shifted and came overtop of the cab, so the cab ended up in the basement of the house so we had to move a lot of the load out of the area by hand first to gain access.”
Firefighters then cut open the roof of the truck and were able to free the driver at around 5 p.m., a rescue operation that took about three hours.
“I haven’t been involved with anything quite like this. It’s kind of something that you expect to see in a movie,” said Nielsen.
Nielsen added that it was fortunate the driver was the only one in the vehicle, as anyone in the passenger seat may have been more seriously injured.
Sarah Stoneman, who lives at the home the truck crashed into, had just gone to a neighbouring home where she keeps some of her things just minutes before it happened.
“I just came over for a change of clothes and the lights went out for a sec, and there was a big bang,” she said.
“Definitely a bit shocking, definitely a close call and I’m very fortunate that I wasn’t inside so it was very lucky all around. There could’ve been a lot of people who were very hurt.”
Police are now shedding light on what may have caused the driver to veer off the highway.
“The cause of the collision is still under investigation but initial indications are that a medical event may be a contributing factor,” Mounties said in a news release Tuesday.
Police, Nanoose Bay Fire Department and the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement unit are continuing to investigate the collision, and crews were still at the home Tuesday trying to remove the truck from the home. That process was expected to cause additional delays on the Island Highway.
The crash also stalled traffic on the Island Highway for hours Monday night as crews attempted to rescue the driver and investigate the incident.
Coastal Pacific Express, which owns the semi truck, did not respond to requests for a comment Tuesday from CHEK News.
Watch extended surveillance video of the moment a semi truck crashes through a home in Nanoose Bay: