Instincts of passing motorist led to dramatic rescue of crash victim

Colin MacLean
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Steve Jones, right of Sturgeon credits Scott Jackson with saving his life after Jones was trapped in his overturned truck in a brook last week. "I'm sure if he hadn't stopped,'' says Jackson, "I wouldn't be here today.''

Scott Jackson just had to turn back.

The 47-year-old Murray Harbour North resident was driving on Route 17 in Lower Montague last week with his 16-year-old daughter Bailey.

Something caught his eye. He drove a short distance but couldn’t shake the image as being out of the ordinary.

“I saw snow on the road and it looked to me like something hit the guardrail or some activity that shouldn’t be there,’’ he says. “My gut feeling told me I should turn around.’’

So he did.

He and his daughter got out of the truck where the fresh snow was sprayed across the road.

Bailey shone a flashlight down a steep embankment. Jackson saw something shiny. It was an aluminum wheel.

The pair ran down the hill towards a truck that was overturned in a brook.

The truck’s driver, Steve Jones, 59, of Sturgeon, was trapped inside the vehicle with all but his head completely submerged in the cold, fast running water.

There was no way for Jackson and his daughter to get the man out of the truck.

“I tried my darndest,’’ he says. “I was pretty helpless.’’

Jackson called 911 while Bailey talked to Jones.

Knowing help was on the way, Jones, who had fought with all his might to remain conscious for upwards of 90 minutes, simply blacked out.

“I don’t remember anything (after that) until I woke up in the hospital the next day,’’ he told The Guardian Thursday in an interview from his home.

What Jones does remember is driving home from shopping on Jan. 2 when he swerved to avoid an oncoming car that had crossed the line. Jones caught some ice and plunged down the hill into the brook. He was pinned inside his truck. As time passed, he feared the worse.

“When the water starts coming in, you think you are not going to walk away from it,’’ he says.

“I was yelling trying to get peoples’ attention. Being down in the gully like that you don’t know if people could see you.’’

Thankfully, Jackson did find him and called for help.

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Montague Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Jock Beck followed in his own vehicle as fire trucks raced to the scene. Beck says the determination was quickly made that the truck would need to be lifted to get at the doors to get Jones out.

Time was considered of the essence. Jones needed to be freed from his vehicle as quickly as possible in hopes of preventing hyperthermia dealing a deadly blow.

A tow truck was used to tip the crushed truck over on its side. The doors were popped off using the Jaws-of-Life. Firefighters donning survival suits got in the frigid water and hauled Jones out of the vehicle.

Beck says firefighters and paramedics carried Jones up the steep slope on a backboard.

The clothes on Jones were soaked and starting to freeze. They were removed as paramedics went to work to warm up the victim.

Jones was taken to hospital in Charlottetown to be treated for hyperthermia, fractures in the top of his spine, a gash on the left hand and numerous bumps and bruises.

Paramedics and firefighters have been lauded for their efforts in rescuing Jones.

“To me they did exceptional work there,’’ says RCMP Sgt. Kevin Baillie.

“What they did helped save this man’s life...getting him out in a timely manner.’’

Adds Beck: “The right resources were available for this particular call and everybody did their job.’’

Beck is quick to centre out one key player in particular in the dramatic — and successful — rescue.

“Credit goes to the guy who saw the disturbance in the snow and turned around,’’ he says. “Had it not been for that, the result would have been different.’’

Jackson says he has given a lot of thought over what the outcome may have been if he had not acted on his gut and turned back to find Jones in peril.

“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,’’ he says. “You have to help someone as best you can.’’

Jones, who was released from hospital Sunday, is back home on the mend. He is in a neck brace that he will need to wear for about two months.

He is married to Barb Jones and they have three adult sons and two adult stepsons. He expects to spend some time healing his wounds before returning to work at a call centre in Montague.

He has plenty of time to reflect on the frightening incident but also to look back with appreciation on his new lease on life thanks to a host of people ranging from firefighters to paramedics.

“It certainly was quite an ordeal,’’ he says. “I certainly appreciate what they all did.’’

In particular, though, Jones extends his heartfelt gratitude to Jackson for coming to the rescue.

“I’m sure if he hadn’t stopped, I wouldn’t be here today,’’ he says.

Organizations: Montague Volunteer Fire Department, Jaws-of-Life, RCMP

Geographic location: Montague, Murray Harbour North, Charlottetown

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