MONTREAL — Emile Claveau couldn’t believe his eyes as he drove to work along a busy highway in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region Wednesday morning.
As he approached a transport truck about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City, he noticed a man perched on the back.
“He was sitting, cross-legged, holding on to a door handle,” Claveau said Friday. “I was shocked and I tried to get the truck driver’s attention, but there was just too much traffic on the highway, so eventually I called police.”
Quebec provincial police got a call at 7:20 a.m. Wednesday reporting someone on the back of a tractor trailer, Sgt. Marie-Josee Ouellet said.
When a patrol car caught up to the truck more than an hour later, the man had climbed down and was in the stopped car of another motorist.
Truck driver Dave Tremblay, who unwittingly provided the man a lift, told radio station 98.5 this week the man was riding on about two feet of truck bed.
He figures the unconventional hitchhiker hopped on at a rest stop and was on the Quebec City-bound truck for well over 100 kilometres before a motorist managed to alert Tremblay on Highway 175 in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve.
It’s unclear where the man wanted to go, but he was clearly determined. Tremblay said there was a snowstorm and the rider was poorly dressed for the elements.
“He was freezing. He was like a little snowman,” Tremblay told the station. He wonders how long the man would have been able to hang on if he hadn’t stopped when he did.
Police say a 38-year-old man from Alma, Que. was treated for hypothermia and could face a $1,000 fine and be hit with a dozen demerit points for holding on to a moving vehicle.
Claveau has never seen anything like it in Quebec.
“I thought it didn’t make any sense,” he said. “That’s why I tried to stop the truck. It’s not something you see every day.”
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the last name of Emile Claveau