Ottawa

2 friends rescue driver from dump truck overturned in frigid waters

Two friends from Calabogie, Ont., made a daring rescue in frigid water on Wednesday morning after they found an overturned truck with its driver inside sinking into a swamp.

Rescuer estimates driver spent 40 to 50 minutes stuck in a swamp

He helped save a man whose truck overturned in a swamp

7 months ago
Duration 0:58
Devin Campbell was driving home from a trip to Renfrew with his father when he rounded a tight corner, and saw tire tracks going off the road. After pulling over, he saw a truck laying on its side in the cold water of the swamp, and quickly sprang into action with his friend

Two friends from Calabogie, Ont., made a daring rescue in frigid water on Wednesday morning after they found an overturned truck with its driver inside sinking into a swamp.

Devin Campbell was driving home from a trip to Renfrew with his father when he rounded a tight corner on Barryvale Road. He saw tire tracks going off the road and a guardrail toppled over. After he pulled over, he saw the truck lying on its side.

"I remember just seeing the wheels still spinning," Campbell told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "Seeing that, you know the truck had just gone in."

According to Campbell, oil was coming out of the overturned truck. He told his father to call 911, and then he called his wife to bring him a pair of rubber boots, a pair of gloves and a rope.

"My idea was, I'm going to walk into the swamp," Campbell said.

By coincidence Campbell said a friend of his, Gord Gaddess, drove by the scene on his way to the airport. He pulled over and the two men moved from the shoreline to the truck's door.

Two young men holding beers pose and smile for a photo. One is wearing a black long-sleeve shirt, the other is wearing a grey hoodie.
Gord Gaddess, left, and Devin Campbell, right, both jumped into freezing water to try to free the trapped truck driver. (Submitted by Devin Campbell)

"At least [the driver's] head was out of the water, but his cabin was filling up pretty quick with water," Campbell said. "He was conscious, he was definitely in shock."

The driver was firmly strapped in by two seatbelts — one by his shoulder and the other at his lower hip. Campbell said he and Gaddess managed to release the shoulder seatbelt, allowing the driver to keep himself out of the water that was "pouring into the cab."

The two men tried to pull the driver out, but the hip seatbelt remained in the way. At that point, Campbell said they knew they had to jump into the frigid, murky water.

"We were trying to feel around ... you only have maybe two or three minutes before you start losing dexterity in your fingers," Campbell said.

Another witness tossed a box cutter to Campbell and Gaddess, allowing the two men to start cutting the seatbelt. Campbell said they partly cut through the belt when Ontario Provincial Police officers and firefighters arrived on the scene to assist.

A group of witnesses standing on a snowy road look at an overturned green dump truck on the left of the photo. A first responder is standing on the truck.
A news release from Ontario Provincial Police said the driver and responding officers were taken to a local hospital by Renfrew County paramedics. (Ontario Provincial Police)

Once pulled out, Campbell said the driver was "in survival mode. It was a lot of one-word answers, but the fact he was still talking was good to see."

Campbell estimates the driver spent 40 to 50 minutes in the frigid water.

In a news release, the OPP said the driver and responding officers were taken to a local hospital.

Acting Sgt. Brianna Roberge, a media relations officer with OPP, said five people have been nominated for Bravery Awards — three citizens and two police officers — for the rescue.

According to Roberge, these awards are given to people who display exceptional bravery. The factors to consider also include the "degree of resourcefulness and the extent to which an individual's own life was at risk." The next ceremony will be in 2024.

"I guess everything happens for a reason," Campbell said. "I'm just happy that the driver's OK."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Lopez Steven is a reporter and part-time writer for CBC News Network. He's also a recent journalism graduate from Carleton University. You can reach him at benjamin.steven@cbc.ca or find him on Twitter at @bensteven_s.

With files from CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning