Seven North Saanich residents were recognized for bravery at a North Saanich council meeting on Monday Oct. 15.
Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Staff Sergeant Wayne Conley and North Saanich Fire chief John Trelford described the incident and handed a certificate of thanks to Marlene Speckert, James Morrell, Aeden Morrell, Joseph Gabe Gauvreau, Carmen Gauvreau, Jennifer Gordon, and Floyd Mailhot.
On July 9 around 3:50 p.m., a gray Jeep travelling eastbound in the 1200 block of Lands End Road plunged down a 30-foot bank, crashing into a stand of trees. The collision rendered the driver, a 71-year old North Saanich woman, unconscious and seriously injured. The accelerator pedal of the Jeep was still depressed after the crash, so the tires were spinning at high speed, shooting rocks and gravel across the roadway.
“They had the smarts to crawl in through the sunroof, shut the car off, and borrowed some metal bars from a construction site next door and were actually able to pry the door open,” said Trelford.
The spinning tires were also starting a fire under the car, so residents used fire extinguishers from their own homes to douse the fire. One neighbour, a nurse, administered first aid to check the driver’s airway and stabilize her.
When Trelford arrived, residents kept providing assistance until the driver could be safely removed from the wreckage and transported to hospital. The woman later died of her injuries.
At the meeting, Conley said he wanted to honour the residents who “were quick in their response to do all that they could to assist this injured driver.”
“They did this at risk to their own personal safety and we commend them for their efforts in administering first aid and extinguishing the vehicle fire.”
Trelford said when he arrived at the scene, he was amazed to see it was “abuzz with activity.”
“Just an incredible effort; these guys deserve this,” said Trelford. In a later interview, Trelford said he did not recommend bystanders act before first responders, but that these residents likely did not give it a second thought.
“Often people jump in to help, but this was extraordinary.”