Dease Lake BC to Stewart BC, Part 1

I filled the car with petrol, having been warned that some of the pumps along my route were not reliably open, and set off in deteriorating near-zero weather.

Luckily, the temperature rose a little and the prospect for a smooth and interesting trip improved.

I had passed Iskut and Tatogga, both places I had considered staying in for the previous night, when I was flagged down by a dishevelled looking man. He asked me if I was local, and when I said that I was about as far from that as could be, he said he was wanting to know if there were any services nearby. Only then did he reveal that he had crashed his car off the road and down the embankment! I jumped out and checked that he was uninjured, apart from minor cuts and bruises, and that there was no-one else in the car, which had rolled and smashed backwards into trees, spilling various possessions down the bank.

The accident had only happened a few minutes earlier, and I was first on the scene. What to do now? There was no mobile phone signal for several hundred kilometres, and no way of summoning help. I said I would wait with him, and if no vehicle came in the right direction within a few minutes, I would turn round and take him the 20km to the nearest settlement of Tatogga, where some help could be found. He was, understandably, confused and distraught. He was driving alone from Denver, Colorado to go climbing in Alaska. It seemed that he had put two wheels onto the loose verge, swerved back into the road, and then over-corrected, turning back over the verge and down the embankment. He kept saying how his friends had told him he was stupid to be doing this alone . . . .

After about 10 minutes, a large pick-up pulling a trailer arrived. I flagged them down, and once again the man began with an indirect question: “Where are you going to?”. Suspiciously, the driver said they were heading to Whitehorse in the Yukon. At that point, I interrupted and explained the accident. Immediately, the driver said that he would pull off just up the road and make space to carry the accident victim to help.

My role was over. The victim thanked me profusely for stopping and helping, and declined offers of assistance to extricate any possessions from the wreck. Shaken, I drove carefully on. Uppermost in my mind was the question of what would happen if someone was injured in an accident out here? A sobering experience.

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