A Maple Ridge driver of an SUV died after his vehicle crashed into a ditch in Pitt Meadows on Saturday – the third such death in the city this year.
The Ford Explorer landed upside down in water-filled ditch in the 17900-block of the Ford Road Detour just after 11 a.m., near the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Firefighters hooked the vehicle up to a winch and lifted it enough to free the 55-year-old man who, according to a witness, had been under water for at least 10 minutes. Two people saw the initial crash and tried to remove the man from the SUV.
“The vehicle was upside down, submerged again, same sort of scenario as last time, and no vehicle access,” said Pitt Meadows fire chief Don Jolley.
“We had to winch the vehicle on its side to gain access.”
Once the vehicle was raised from the ditch, firefighters were able to free the victim.
Jolley confirmed it took about 10 minutes for the fire department to get to the accident scene, hook up the vehicle and raise it enough to free the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing. It was raining heavily at time of the crash.
The death is the third fatal accident involving a vehicle submerged in a ditch in Pitt Meadows this year.
On Sept. 1, a man was found dead in his truck, upside down in a ditch at Harris and McNeil roads.
In May, an 18-year-old Pitt Meadows girl died after the car she was driving rolled into a water-filled ditch on Woolridge Road.
Jolley said cars and truck crashing into the deep ditches of agricultural Pitt Meadows is an ever-present danger.
“We’ve had cars in ditches for as long as I’ve been a member of this fire department. But it happens all over the community.”
Jolley said driving on roads with steep ditches on each side is different than roadsides with gentle slopes or flat ground. People need to pay attention rural roads.
“You have to be very careful, if you get your wheels off the road on to the shoulder it’s going to happen very quickly and the ditches are steep sided.
“You lose control you can be off that road extremely quickly and it’s very unforgiving.”
But nothing can be done. Drainage ditches are just part of a farming community.
Firefighters regularly train for such scenarios. “Once you’re under water for more than a couple of minutes your chances of survival are very low.”
In the Saturday accident, water was up to the bottom of the SUV’s windows. He guesses there was about a metre of water in the ditch although there wasn’t as much water as in the Sept. 1 crash on Harris Road.