By Keith McNeill
The successful recovery of a pickup truck from the North Thompson River last week brought back memories to Pierre Trottier.
It was his truck and he was driving it at the time it went into the river.
“I could have been killed three times,” he said. “First, when the truck hit the boulders at the side of the river, second from drowning as I swam to shore, and third from hypothermia after I got out.”
His dog, Rosie, a seven-month-old border collie, survived the crash with him but died 15 hours later from apparent internal injuries.
The incident occurred on Jan. 14 at about 1:40 in the afternoon.
Trottier had been living in a trailer court in Kamloops but had received an eviction notice because his dog was two inches too tall for the park’s maximum.
In the interim he had been staying at a cabin he owns in Blue River. He was on his way from Blue River to Kamloops for a hearing to appeal the eviction notice.
He was pulling a utility trailer with his 2004 F150 when he hit a patch of black ice about 20 km south of Avola.
“I went right, then left, then right. The third time I blew through the bank and landed on the river’s edge on some three-foot rocks. The windows just blew out. I was very happy that Ford makes good doors.”
Trottier found himself floating down the river in his pickup as the cab filled with freezing water.
“I saw some rapids ahead and I knew I had to get out. It was only about 15 feet to the shore but I was wearing heavy boots and a down jacket. Luckily, I was a competitive swimmer when I was a kid. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have made it.”
When he got to the ice shelf along the shore he found his dog was there too.
“It took me three tries to get onto the ice sheet,” he said. “Then I went and got my dog.”
“After that, things kind of go blank. Three East Indians from Surrey stopped on the highway, came down and got me, but I don’t remember that.”
The three put him into their van and gave him dry clothes to wear.
He and his dog were transferred to an ambulance, which took them to the hospital in Clearwater.
“The ambulance attendants used all 18 of their heating pads on me during the drive to Clearwater,” Trottier recalled.
After being stabilized in Clearwater, he was taken by ambulance to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
The doctors there checked him over again and then released him.
Trottier’s former wife and their son came to get him and gave him a place to stay for the night.
“We got to their place about 12:30,” he said. “I tried to sleep but Rosie kept whimpering. At 5:30 she made some choking noises. I got up and she died in my arms.”
Even though his dog is no longer a problem with the trailer court operators, Trottier says he no longer wants to stay there.
A former CN conductor who used to travel regularly between Kamloops and Blue River, he is in the process of moving to Blue River and selling his trailer in Kamloops.
“At my place in Blue River I could have 10 dogs and no one would complain,” he said. “I really miss my Rosie.”