Woman waits for rescue by roadFort Providence resident stuck in seatbelt in sub-zero temperatures
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 27, 2014
DEH GAH GOT'IE KOE/FORT PROVIDENCE
A Fort Providence woman says her harrowing experience is an example of why motorists in the NWT should pay attention if they see a vehicle accident.
Evelyn Krutko was approximately 50 kilometres outside of Fort Providence headed to Yellowknife on Feb. 5 when she saw some ice on a curve in the highway. She was just about to steer away from the ice when her Ford Ranger flipped and rolled.
What seemed like a few seconds later, Krutko found herself still in her seat, but with the truck lying on the driver's side facing the forest.
"I couldn't move, my seatbelt had me pinned in there so bad," she said.
"It saved me from rolling out of my truck, but it almost killed me, it kept me pinned in there."
Krutko couldn't release the seatbelt. During the accident, the driver's side and the back windows had broken and some snow had come into the truck.
With temperatures around -30 C, Krutko found herself trapped with no coat or gloves on.
Krutko thinks it was around 11 a.m. when she crashed. She waited for help.
"I could hear trucks coming behind me but no one would stop," she said.
Every time she heard a vehicle Krutko honked her horn and yelled in the hopes of being rescued.
"But I knew they couldn't hear me, but they just kept driving past and no one would stop."
Kelly Pierce of Hay River was driving south on Highway 3 around 12 p.m. when he saw the truck. He couldn't see any tracks leading in or out of the vehicle so he stopped to investigate. When he got close to the truck Krutko started to yell and honk the horn.
Pierce, who used to drive a tow truck, has seen a lot of vehicle accidents, but this was the first time he had to get someone out of a crash. He tried to use his cellphone to call for help, but couldn't get a signal.
Pierce crawled through the back window and was moving Krutko's luggage out of his way when he heard another vehicle coming. He flagged down a Ventures West Transport LP truck.
"Peter helped tremendously," Pierce said about the driver who's last name is unknown.
The two men got Krutko's seatbelt undone. They also got her into her coat and wrapped her in a blanket Peter had.
"She was cold," Pierce said.
"I knew I had to get her to Providence."
Another Ventures West driver offered to call for help and Georges Erasmus, Patrick Scott and Chris Reid, who were headed to the Dehcho First Nations' leadership meeting in Fort Providence, helped Pierce and Peter roll the truck onto its wheels to get her out.
The men put Krutko on a piece of plywood and carried her through the ditch to Pierce's truck so he could drive her to the hamlet.
On the Fort Providence access road Pierce met members of the Fort Providence Volunteer Fire Department and health centre staff who were responding to the accident. One person got in the truck and they continued to the health centre.
Pierce said he is thankful he stopped when he saw Krutko's truck.
"You could never tell," he said about how long it's been since an accident occurred.
Krutko is grateful to everyone who helped rescue her, especially Pierce who she calls her "saviour" and "guardian angel."
"I was almost dead, I was almost frozen," she said.
"I was really in a hypothermic state when I got the to health centre here."
In addition to the people who helped at the scene, Krutko said she is thankful to the Fort Providence Volunteer Fire Department, the staff at the Fort Providence health centre including Dr. Martell, the nurses, Jessica Field and Mel Rasmussen-Vandell as well as the medevac crew that came to assist.
Besides being hypothermic, Krutko didn't suffer any other injuries from her accident. She said she's still stiff and sore.