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UPDATED: Flagger from Duncan still in critical condition after being pinned by dumptruck
When a horrified Bonnie Thibault saw a young flag-woman pinned under a dump-truck wheel Monday, she instinctively acted to help her.
“I went to try and comfort her, but her body was engulfed under the tire,” she said of the flagger from Duncan who remained in critical condition Tuesday in Victoria.
A shaken Thibault told her Beverly Arms tenants to dial 911, and all other medical services after the 10:30 a.m. accident.
“I can’t explain it in words, when you’re helpless to help someone,” she said.
Her husband, Bill, ran to get paramedic Martin Paterson, an Arms tenant.
The unconscious woman — whose name has not been released — was dressed in bright-yellow safety clothing when she somehow ended under the right-rear wheel of a gravel-loaded Stone Pacific Contracting rig towing a trailer at a construction zone near the Cowichan Valley School District offices.
The wheel sat on her head and torso, explained Ken Wright of Duncan Asphalt Paving.
Paterson attended the injured woman while North Cowichan’s south-end firefighters arrived. At first, Paterson noticed the flagger wasn’t breathing, but found a pulse in her ankle area, he told CHEK news Monday.
Firefighters hoisted a blue tarp to shield the tense scene from onlookers, Bill explained.
While WorkSafeBC investigates exactly how the flagger — an lsland Traffic Services’ employee, listed as experienced by WorkSafe — came be under the 25-ton truck, Wright believed loosened road gravel helped cushion the woman.
Firefighters inflated special safety balloons to lift the truck. Wright said the rig was moved forward, and the injured woman was moved to safety with only a scratch visible.
Her internal injuries were still being tended at Victoria hospital where she was airlifted Monday.
“She was in critical condition as of Monday,” said Alexandra Skinner-Reynolds of WorkSafeBC.
The Thibaults and Wright sympathized with the flagger and the truck driver.
“He is hurting; he was crying,” Bill said. “It was a total accident.”
Meanwhile, the accident site’s roadwork has resumed.
“Although work halted (Monday) for the investigation and scene examination, the work site was not shut down officially,” Skinner-Reynolds’ Tuesday statement says.
“Experienced WSBC officers evaluated the situation and did not find circumstances present that warranted issuing immediate compliance orders.
“The work area is a city street and traffic-controlled access through the area is needed by residents and businesses. The employers are under no restriction from resuming their activities at the site.”
WorkSafeBC will investigate employer and worker compliance concerning mobile equipment and traffic control requirements, instruction, training, and supervision, plus human factors that may have influenced the accident, she notes.
“At the time of the injury, she was actively controlling traffic,” Skinner-Reynolds said.
A spokesperson with Stone Pacific Contracting Ltd. referred calls to WorkSafeBC.
Cpl. Jon Stuart of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP said WorkSafeBC is investigating the incident.