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Mill Bay woman tells how she rescued driver of dump truck that plunged into ocean

The driver of the truck lost control on Frayne Road, crossing Mill Bay Road, plunging down an embankment and landing upside down in the ocean.
A dump truck landed upside down in the water off Mill Bay after the driver lost control on Frayne Road on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. LISA MARIA FOX

A Mill Bay woman described Thursday how she rescued a truck driver whose vehicle ended up upside-down in eight feet of water after its brakes failed on a steep hill.

Lisa Maria Fox was at home about 11:45 a.m Wednesday when she heard a very loud crash. When she rushed to the deck of her house, which overlooks Saanich Inlet, she saw a brown circle in the water, indicating that something big had gone in.

The brakes of a loaded tandem-axle truck had failed as it descended Frayne Road. The truck had gained speed as it barreled down the road and went through the intersection with Mill Bay Road before smashing through a concrete barrier and down a 50-foot embankment, coming to rest about 300 feet from the shore.

When she scrambled down to the beach to get a better look at what had happened, Fox saw two large wheels sticking out of the water. Then she heard screams from the driver, a woman who looked like she was in her 30s.

“I first only waded up to my waist, calling out to her and letting her know I was there, I was there to help her and she was OK,” said Fox, who recently moved back to the region after living in Alberta for 23 years.

The woman had scrambled out of the truck’s cab, but was only moving one arm and her face was covered in blood. She looked like she was having difficulty breathing and was drifting out with the tide, Fox said.

Fox, who grew up around Nanaimo and considers herself a strong swimmer, swam out to the driver — who later identified herself as Kelly — and started pulling her towards the shore.

“I kept telling her she was strong, that she was amazing, and she was alive and I was there to help her,” said Fox, 51.

She only had to swim about 10 to 15 feet before her feet touched the bottom again.

“I just helped her to the shore and got her settled, rubbing her briskly on her back and arms and comforting her,” Fox said.

Neighbours sent down blankets, which Fox wrapped the driver in while they waited for the Mill Bay Fire Department to arrive.

“When we got on scene, they were both sitting on the shore,” said Ron Beck, Mill Bay fire chief. “The truck driver was taken to the hospital, but was released later in the day.”

Totem Towing of Victoria assisted Mill Bay Towing in extracting the truck from the water.

Fox doesn’t consider herself a heroine. Instead, she credited the driver for her resilience, calling her “one tough lady” for managing to get herself out of the wreck.

“I feel so blessed, so glad that I was there to be able to help save a life,” said Fox.

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Earlier story: 

A Mill Bay woman ran into the icy ocean to rescue the driver of a dump truck after it went out of control Wednesday.

“We had a tandem dump truck lose control or lose its brakes as it came down Frayne Road,” said Mill Bay Fire Chief Ron Beck. “It crossed Mill Bay Road, just missing other vehicles, then plunged off the end of Frayne Road, which is a 50-foot embankment, and landed upside down in the ocean.”

The driver was in good ­condition, believe it or not, Beck said.

When firefighters arrived, they learned that a woman who lives in the area saw the crash, saw the truck upside down in the ocean in eight feet of water, and dived in to help the driver, a woman, get to shore, he said.

“And when we got on scene, they were both sitting on the shore,” he said.

The woman who rescued the truck driver spoke to the RCMP, then went to change because she was shivering and shaking and needed dry clothes, Beck said.

He doesn’t know her name but is planning to pursue a commendation or bravery award for the dangerous rescue.

Beck said he did not know why the truck’s brakes failed, but said Frayne Road is steep and the 50-foot embankment at the end is very steep.

Large tow trucks were needed to pull the tandem dump truck back to shore.