Updated Oct 23
A man was rushed to hospital by ambulance in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning following a dramatic rescue after a pickup truck rolled down a steep embankment on the Ingraham Trail, trapping the man underneath it.
RCMP stated in a news release that the man was listed in stable condition at hospital.
The truck, which was headed toward Yellowknife, left the slippery, slush-covered roadway just before the Prosperous Lake boat launch. It is believed the man was ejected and ended up under the truck which landed on its wheels in soft mud after rolling over. RCMP stated that he was the sole occupant of the vehicle. It was not clear when the crash occurred or exactly how long the man was trapped.
The victim could clearly be hard moaning as emergency crews worked frantically to free him from under the vehicle. He was not officially identified, but crews were calling him ‘Zachery’ as they tried to keep him calm. About a half dozen firefighters used jacks, inflatable air bags wedges and shovels to try to get him out from under the truck. They struggled to jack the truck up because of the soft ground. A bank of floodlights, set up on top of a fire truck, was used to help light the rescue scene. Paramedics were also at the scene while the rescue was taking place.
The man was eventually freed and carried on a stretcher to an ambulance which was waiting at the nearby boat launch parking lot. He was conscious and talking as he was loaded into the waiting ambulance.
The Mounties stated that their investigation was concluded with no charges laid.
“Police believe road conditions may have been a factor in the crash,” stated Marie York-Condon, civilian spokesperson for the RCMP.
Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne, whose riding includes the Ingraham Trail, brought the road safety issue up in the Legislative Assembly Friday morning.
He pointed out that he had crashed in the same area once before. “Each side of the road is steep with sharp corners,” said Vanthuyne.
Vanthuyne asked Wally Schumann, minister of infrastructure, how his department, which oversees NWT highways, was managing sanding, plowing and the like this winter.
“I imagine it’s a daily patrol to check on the conditions of this section of the highway,” said Schumann.
“It’s an important section of road. We take safety as a number one priority.”
Schumann said that his department will review all accidents and see if there is “some type of improvement” that could be done.
“We will certainly have another look at this section of highway,” said Schumann.
He added he was “almost certain” guardrails are planned for this section of road.
Jackie Coulombe, who lives on the trail near Prelude Lake and was driving by the crash scene Friday morning, said she too has concerns about the road’s safety.
“The maintenance is terrible. It’s great when the ice road season is in operation but otherwise it’s awful,” Coulombe said. She said she typically doesn’t see plows on that part of the road until 7:30 a.m. “We need more plows and sanders at a reasonable time. The people who drive into the city are already on the highway.”
Coulombe, who works for the territorial government, said she looks in those ditches along the road every morning half expecting a vehicle to be down there. Coulombe said she has been complaining about the lack of road safety for the three years she has lived on the trail.
“The response is always ‘we’ll look into it,’ or ‘we’d have to change all our guys’ hours,’” Coulombe said. “They claim to plow and sand 24/7 when the ice road is open, but what about the rest of us who drive the road year-round?”