Police are still trying to piece together the events that sent one man to hospital in critical condition.
On the evening of April 25, at about 8 p.m., two men — one a 39-year-old, the other a 29-year-old — were driving off road on a trail near Highway 8 about 20 kilometres west of Merritt.
Somehow, their Toyota Rav rolled down a steep embankment RCMP officers estimate to be about 500 feet.
“It was extremely rough, rough terrain. It’s like a goat trail that they were on, and the car rolled down a very steep embankment and then burst into flames after they had crawled out,” Merritt RCMP Const. Tracy Dunsmore told the Herald.
The vehicle burnt up, but didn’t cause a large fire as the surrounding area didn’t have a lot of vegetation around it, Dunsmore said.
Upon crashing, the 39-year-old was able to return home, and left his 29-year-old companion, who had suffered a broken leg and other injuries, stranded in the woods.
Temperatures overnight dropped to about -5 C degrees in Merritt by 5 a.m. or -7 C degrees with windchill.
The wife of the younger man called police at about 5 a.m. after speaking with her husband’s companion when he returned home.
“I don’t know what time he got home, so if he just showed up and went to her and told her, or if he went home and she went over and found him, I don’t know how that went down exactly,” Dunsmore said.
Search and rescue members and the stranded man’s family went out to look for him knowing where the vehicle went into the woods, but not where it went off the road.
The 39-year-old did not go with search and rescue to locate his neighbor.
He was found and extricated at about 6 a.m.
“He was in a lot of pain,” Dunsmore said, noting he was taken to Royal Inland Hospital’s intensive care unit in Kamloops.
Dunsmore said the 39-year-old has so far refused to answer questions.
“The guy that can answer the questions is in ICU in Kamloops and we’re not able to question him,” Dunsmore said.
The stranded man was conscious and speaking when he was found, she said.
Police are unsure if the 29-year-old was driving the vehicle.
The older man refused an ambulance when police visited him, though he appeared to be in discomfort.
Police are not sure how he got back to his home.
The 29-year-old is in stable condition and police hope to interview him in the next few days in order to get more information regarding what happened that night.