Wednesday April 16, 2014

Kamloops man survives Vernon road crash

Driving out of Vernon last week, Mario Valiva was feeling pretty good.

He'd just picked up a new car - well, as good as new with only 21,000 kilometres on it - and was driving the 2009 Subaru Forester home to Kamloops.

"It was a really beautiful car - a perfect car," Valiva said, recalling events from last Tuesday.

Things went downhill from there, though. He missed the Highway 97 exit and wound up heading for Salmon Arm instead. At that point, he stopped, got directions and headed back on course.

Valiva was only a few kilometres up the hill, headed for Falkland and near the MotoPlex Speedway, when the inexplicable happened.

"There were people following close behind me, but I wasn't doing the speed limit," he said. "I went flying off a 25-30-foot embankment - just flew off and went right through a fence. They told me my car rolled several times and all the airbags came out."

Those airbags may have helped save his life, since he was carrying four tires mounted on rims in the back of the wagon. As it was, fellow motorists came to his aid and paramedics arrived shortly after. He suffered no visible injuries, but had a concussion.

"I felt kind of shaken," he said on Saturday. "I was in a state of shock," but walking around. The medics, fearing a possible neck injury, immediately placed him in a stretcher and took him to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Valiva, 54, lives on a disability pension. He suffers anxiety attacks, but doesn't feel his health was a factor in the accident. He needs to check with his physician to determine whether he suffered internal injuries aside from the concussion.

"I'm trying to piece things together."

The car, however, is probably a write-off.

Valiva may have hit black ice - a prime suspect in any highway crash at this time of year - but has yet to hear the results from a police accident investigation. Vernon RCMP could not be reached over the weekend.

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