Emergency crews attend the scene at Rumming Road in Lantzville where a woman had to be rescued after her car was caught in a mudslide early Monday morning. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Woman rescued from upside-down vehicle in mudslide on Vancouver Island

Regional District of Nanaimo activates emergency operations

One woman needed to be rescued after a mudslide in Lantzville washed out a road in the middle of the night.

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue president Nick Rivers, who performed the rope rescue, said the scene was “very bad.”

Ten emergency vehicles were on scene at Rumming Road just off the highway right on the border between Lantzville and Nanoose Bay a little after 12:30 a.m. Monday morning. Arrowsmith and Nanaimo search and rescue and Nanoose and Lantzville fire departments were on scene.

Lantzville Fire Department deputy chief John Marment said a section of the road had been washed away and it appeared “that a vehicle then went down into the large hole left by the washout, landed upside-down and went down the slide heading towards the ocean.”

Rivers said the fire departments were able to cordon off the scene, but were unable to get to the vehicle. Rivers said when Arrowsmith Search and Rescue arrived, the team set up a quick rope system to get down to the vehicle.

“When I got down to the bottom, where the vehicle was, it was pretty interesting place to be. It wasn’t a fun place to be at all,” Rivers said. “There was a waterfall coming down onto the car which had flipped upside down. All the windows had blasted out of the car when it landed upside down.”

When Rivers got down to the bottom, he said he disconnected from the rope and found the “very lucky young lady” that was inside the vehicle. Rivers said he helped her out of the vehicle and got her hooked up to the harness and back on the rope system and to the crews waiting up top.

Marment said the vehicle was unstable during the rescue.

“Even when search and rescue were trying to get her out, the vehicle was still sliding down this mudslide.”

Rivers said once at the top, he transferred the woman to BC Ambulance Service. The woman was then transported to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital with unknown injuries.

Rivers said the only thing he could compare the scene and experience to was a disaster movie.

“There are rocks coming down hitting the car, the bank is eroding more and more and more as you’re down there and you’re dodging rocks. It was pretty stressful for a little while there,” River said.

In total, Rivers said, the rescue took a little more than an hour. The operation took place during a downpour.

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There were reports of another hill coming down nearby in Nanoose Bay – police had one southbound lane blocked near Hillview Road – and access to Northwest Bay Road was completely closed at the Nanoose Bay Petro-Canada station.RELATED: Heavy rains expected at Nanoose Bay

At 1:17 a.m., Drive B.C. advised of a washout 10 kilometres north of Nanaimo affecting traffic on Highway 19 in both directions. The incident was classified as “major.” Drive B.C. is also reporting water pooling on highways north of Nanaimo all the way up to Campbell River and also toward Port Alberni.

The Regional District of Nanaimo advised via social media of a landslide in Lantzville and flooding in Parksville and Whiskey Creek and has activated its Level 2 Emergency Operation Centre.

“Updates will be provided on our social media and website as needed,” the post reads.

Martindale Road in Parksville, Melrose Road in Whiskey Creek and Rumming Road are closed.

To report flooding in the RDN, contact 778-762-3553.

— with files from Lauren Collins, PQB News

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