The medical community in Lillooet is mourning the death of one of its own, a home health nurse who plunged over a cliff en route to outreach work in Gold Bridge.
Janice Buller leaves behind a young son, several people in Lillooet said. She was driving alone.
“I’m shocked, everyone is shocked,” said Tracy Quewezance, regional chair for B.C. Nurses Union who knew Buller personally.
RCMP responded to a report by highways crews about 10:45 a.m. Thursday that a truck had gone off Highway 40, about 13 kilometres west of Lillooet en route to Gold Bridge.
Buller’s Jeep was in the river, after it veered off a steep cliff and landed about 250 metres from the highway into the icy Bridge River.
Police said Buller was still alive but suffering from severe hypothermia. In the next four hours RCMP were aided by a B.C. Hydro high altitude rescue team, Pemberton Search and Rescue and Lillooet Fire & Rescue.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said Buller was originally responsive to rescuers.
She was extracted from the car and brought up to the highway above, where a medevac helicopter was on hand, after a four-hour rescue effort.
But the 40-year-old died after being taken to Royal Inland Hospital, Moskaluk said.
Interior Health Authority declined to make available Lillooet’s hospital administrator or staff who worked with Buller. It distributed a statement saying “we are extremely saddened to hear about the death of one of our home nurses.”
It asked that privacy be given to staff and the family.
Residents in Lillooet said Buller was not a longtime resident.
Quewezance said she was training to become a shop steward in that unit.
Mayor Dennis Bontron said the road between Lillooet and Gold Bridge can be dangerous, particularly further west.
“It’s winter conditions,” he said. “The weather’s been warming. It’s compact snow and it’s warming. Slush is an issue.”