Stuck underwater in upside-down truck: Rescuer says Codroy Valley turn a death-trap

A Codroy Valley woman who responded to a potentially fatal road accident last weekend says a notorious sharp turn is a serious hazard for people who don't know the area.

"It's a 90-degree angle, I would say. Sharp is not the word," Brenda Roberts told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

Last Saturday night, a man from Ontario went off the road and ended up stuck upside down in his truck, submerged in Broom Brook.

Luckily for him, Roberts and her husband were settled in for the night in their Millville home when they heard a loud thump and went to investigate.

"[My husband] thought he'd go look down to the bridge, see if something went over, so that's what he did and he came back in a great panic because a truck was down below the bridge in the brook, upside down," Roberts said.

She immediatelly called 911, who dispatched police, firefighters and an ambulance to the area — but all those emergency personnel still couldn't pry the door open, so they had to call for a Jaws of Life device to come in from Port aux Basques.

Roberts said the young man was stuck soaking in the sub-zero water inside the truck for 90 minutes.

"If the windows had broken out of the back of the vehicle … the water would have come through and he surely would have drowned," said Roberts.

"And if he hadn't been seen he would have been, like if we hadn't noticed it, well I would think that what would have happened is he would have literally froze to death in that freezing water."

Potentially fatal spot

Roberts said the driver went into the water through a gap next to a bridge that comes up right after a 90-degree turn.

The driver told her he had just avoided hitting two moose, and hit a third, before coming around the turn and going right over into the water.

She said he went through a space that once was the site of the bridge across Broom Brook, before it was replaced by a new structure.

Roberts said a guardrail was installed — but so many vehicles crashed into it while coming around the sharp turn that it eventually just fell off.

A few wooden posts with boards in between replaced it, until the same thing happened to them.

Roberts said since the crash last Saturday, cement blocks have been placed in the gap, but she worries a vehicle crashing into them could cause a death. 

"You need some warning signs about a kilometre or two kilometres before getting to that spot. People who are not from the area don't necessarily know the road," she said.

Roberts thinks the speed limit could also be reduced to around 30 km/h, and a flashing light installed to warn drivers "this spot is potentially fatal."

Not the first time

Since she moved back to the Codroy Valley from Labrador two years ago, Roberts has witnessed four crashes at that spot. Two, including the most recent, ended up with a driver stuck upside down submerged in the water.

She said the young driver she and her husband helped rescue is grateful, and Roberts hopes this story makes other drivers more aware of the hazardous spot.

"It would have been a tragedy," she said.

"That particular young man was accepted to go to McMaster University in September, he was going to law school, and a young life would have been just gone in despair. His poor parents, how would they have felt?"