WATCH: A near tragedy on Highway 4 today was prevented by the brave actions of three drivers. The trio is being hailed as heroes tonight after helping save the life of a man trapped in a burning vehicle. One of them was involved in the collision that sparked the fire. Dean Stoltz with more on how they rushed in to help.
RCMP say the weather was “definitely” a factor in a two-vehicle crash east of Port Alberni Tuesday morning, which left the drivers involved with non-life threatening injuries.
Police say the collision happened around 7:30 a.m. just west of the Loon Lake connector near the brake-check at the top of Port Alberni hump, with one of the vehicles, a pick-up-truck, becoming engulfed in flames.
Road conditions were said to be wet and slippery with slushy sections when an eastbound pickup truck drifted into the westbound lane colliding with a Jeep.
Officials with the Port Alberni Fire Department said 23-year-old Tia Anderson who was driving the Jeep, was injured but got out of her vehicle and attempted to help the man trapped inside the burning truck. She attempted to free his feet which were trapped. Anderson suffered burns to both of her hands.
“When she got smoked into the rock after the head on, she automatically jumped out of that car. I don’t know how the hell she got out but she jumped out and tended to the other guy,” Tia Anderson’s father Drew told CHEK News. “She told me ‘and it was cooking hot.’ I guess she was determined to keep it blocked out.”
Two others including Nick Labadie from BC Hydro soon pulled up to the scene and took over the rescue efforts.
“He just wanted to get out like ‘get me out please get me out, somebody get me out,’ that was the main screaming and the flames were coming up real fast. It was incredible how fast the flames came up,” Labadie said about the rescue.
The man in the pickup truck was eventually freed and pulled out the driver’s door window because the door was jammed shut.
Anderson was taken to hospital in Port Alberni and released while the unnamed man was airlifted to Victoria for treatment of more serious but non life-threatening injuries.
Happening Now: Hwy 4 closed on the hump. #PortAlberni No word on any injuries Credit: Pauline McVey. @CHEK_News @DriveBC pic.twitter.com/Yjr3XAZAMV
— Dean Stoltz (@deanstoltzchek) March 12, 2019
Port Alberni Fire Chief Mike Owens said nobody could have made it through the fire by the time firefighters arrived.
“If it wasn’t for those bystanders the individual may have perished in the truck,” Owens said.
The crash closed both directions of Highway 4 in the area, but the road reopened around 9 a.m.
CLEAR – #BCHwy4 was closed at Elkford road due to a vehicle incident, now cleared. #PortAlberniBC. #VanIsle #CameronLake
— Drive BC (@DriveBC) March 12, 2019