Man escapes logging truck crash with minor injuries

A truck driver spent almost three hours trapped in the twisted wreck of his logging truck after a blown tire caused the rig to crash on the Coquihalla Highway.

Much to the surprise of emergency responders driver Brad Holm, 33, survived the potentially deadly accident and was taken to Royal Inland Hospital Thursday morning with only minor injuries.

"It was a miracle," said RCMP Const. Colin Brandt. "I don't know what else you can attribute it too. He's one lucky guy."

Holm's rig was southbound at about 5:40 a.m. when it suddenly steered off the highway and into a roadside ditch. Dave Spracklin, of Kamloops, was travelling behind the logging truck on his motorcycle when the crash happened.

"It happened right in front of me - just dust and logs everywhere," Spracklin told The Daily News Thursday afternoon. "It was a little hairy."

Spracklin believes a quick stop for gas kept him from being in front of the rig as it crashed. He said logs were tossed a city block as the rig violently rolled off the highway. He is sure he could have been hurt or killed.

He pulled off the road and ran to see if the driver was OK. He said the cab was squashed by the logs,

At first, Spracklin feared the worst. Then he heard a moan from beneath the pile of wood. He climbed onto the cab and looked inside.

The truck was on its side. Holm's head and shoulders were wedged against the back of the cab and his legs wrapped underneath and around the driver's seat, he said.

"I'm OK," Holm told Spracklin. He said Holm wasn't in any pain but was having a tough time breathing. "He seemed pretty calm."

Spracklin, a heavy machine operator for VSA Highway Maintenance, said a device known as a headache rack probably saved Holm's life. The solid piece of aluminum is designed to prevent logs from piercing a truck's cab.

Once he knew the driver was alive, Spracklin ran down the highway to stop traffic and flag down someone to phone 911.

Firefighters were dispatched from Kamloops and Logan Lake by 5:50 a.m. Crews cut away and removed the logs from the truck and then worked on opening the cab to get at Holm.

Kamloops Fire and Rescue acting Lieut. Darryl Damini said every piece of hydraulic equipment at firefighters' disposal was used to free the trapped driver.

"It was great to have so many people to help out," he said of the effort.

A crane with Kamloops Truss was among the long line of vehicles backed up on the highway. Firefighters recruited the help of operator Rick Advocaat to help free Holm.

Advocaat used the crane to remove the headache rack, which was too heavy for firefighters to lift by hand, he said. Crews were able to get Holm to safety once it was out of the way.

The driver was taken to hospital at 8:40 a.m.

Among the traffic stopped by the accident was Holm's dad, Wayne, who was driving his own logging truck. He made his way to the site to check on his son's condition.

As well, Brent Lebeau, Holm's friend, was among the first on the scene. He said the man is an experienced driver.

Holm was still in hospital late Thursday afternoon, he said.

All southbound lanes were closed and northbound traffic was restricted to single-lane while emergency crews responded to the crash. Jeff Knight, a spokesman with the Ministry of Transportation, said drivers could expect 10-minute delays throughout the afternoon while the wreckage and logs were removed.

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