MANY noteworthy side stories came out of the search for Ike Murray and Michael Devlin Sabo, of small feats of heroism, as well as close calls and regrettable missteps.
One such story concerns the pickup truck and boat trailer, owned by volunteer Calvin Kerr, both of which were completely sucked underwater into the Skeena River on the last day of the first official search, Sept. 29.
Kerr had been helping ferry loads of volunteers across the river to the search area and was winching his boat onto his trailer at the Devil’s Elbow boat launch with the help of two other volunteers.
That’s when they heard a loud bang, immediately after which the truck and trailer rolled down the launch ramp to then be sucked into the swift-flowing Skeena.
Scott McGinlay, one of those helping Kerr, said there was every potential for people to be knocked into the river as the truck swept toward them.
“People almost died here,” said McGinlay who believes the bang people heard was a pin or mechanism breaking that then released the truck. Jumping out of the way, he then saw the truck get swept out into the currents.
McGinlay ran to his own boat a short distance upriver and floated down to help while Kerr, who stayed in his boat that was still tied to the sinking trailer, desperately tried to slow the descent by putting his river boat in reverse.
That’s when Kerr called out to McGinlay to free his Labrador puppy that was in the back seat of the truck floating away.
“He yelled out ‘my dog!’ said McGinlay, who had floated down beside the almost completely submerged truck. “I smashed the back window out with my axe and I cleaned the rest of the glass out with my hand,” McGinlay said. “The poor puppy is stuck in the back seat, and I had to go into the sinking truck to get the dog out, holding onto the boat with my legs, and I went up to the shoulders to grab the puppy.”
McGinlay said Kerr is currently exploring insurance options on his truck and trailer. As of late last week, both were still some place in the river.