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Truck driver rescued after load of bread spills into river

Loaves of bread lay spilled over an ice-covered Assiniboine River following a semi-truck roll-over on the Trans-Canada Highway in Grand Valley on Friday.

BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Loaves of bread lay spilled over an ice-covered Assiniboine River following a semi-truck roll-over on the Trans-Canada Highway in Grand Valley on Friday.

The driver of a bread truck that crashed into a river can thank the members of a little-used water rescue team for saving his buns.

The Oak Lake team doesn’t get called out often, but it was there when needed to rescue the injured driver who was stranded in his partly submerged rig.

"Everybody did a good job," RM of Whitehead Fire Department Chief Kelly Crosson said. "We were able to do our job with a good ending."

Just after midnight on Friday, an eastbound semi-trailer left the Trans-Canada Highway, hit a guard rail of the Grand Valley bridge west of Brandon and rolled down the bank into the chilly Assiniboine River.

The trailer tipped onto its side, spilling hundreds of loaves of bread and buns onto the ice and into the water.

The cab landed upright in the water, trapping the driver mid-river in the cab of his truck.

The cab was well out of the water, but firefighters realized they couldn’t reach the stranded driver safely, so they called in the water rescue team.

The team is made up of firefighters and firefighter/paramedics and is part of Oak Lake Mutual Aid.

Whitehead firefighters shouted to the driver from the riverbank, and made contact via his cellphone, and kept him calm until the rescue team arrived.

"We just advised him that we were going to get him out of there; just to sit tight, and everything was going to be fine for him," Crosson said.

Two water rescue members in thermal suits launched a Zodiac boat, but realized that the crashed semi-trailer had pushed the ice of the river underwater.

The team members could walk on the ice through the water, and waded out to the rig with the boat.

The driver was helped into the boat and floated safely to shore. Members of Brandon Fire and Emergency Services were on hand to help with the man’s injuries.

The driver, a 49-year-old Winnipeg man, was taken to Brandon hospital with minor injuries.

The RCMP forensic collision reconstructionist is now working to determine the precise cause of the crash.

However, police say it appears the semi driver was trying to pass another vehicle at the time of the crash. Alcohol and speed weren’t factors.

A Manitoba Conservation spokesperson said one of the truck’s saddle tanks leaked some diesel fuel into the river.

Another tank was separated from the truck and still remains to be found.

Tow trucks were used to pull the semi and trailer out of the river.

Cleanup was still underway Friday afternoon, and the spokesperson said the two concerns are the diesel spill and the need to clean up the bread, plastic bags and trays, before they sink into the river.

At that point, officials were still trying to work out a plan to safely remove the bread and buns from the ice and water.

Crosson said the water rescue team isn’t called out often. It has been called for help about three times in the last five years.

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @IanHitchen

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 21, 2015

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The driver of a bread truck that crashed into a river can thank the members of a little-used water rescue team for saving his buns.

The Oak Lake team doesn’t get called out often, but it was there when needed to rescue the injured driver who was stranded in his partly submerged rig.

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The driver of a bread truck that crashed into a river can thank the members of a little-used water rescue team for saving his buns.

The Oak Lake team doesn’t get called out often, but it was there when needed to rescue the injured driver who was stranded in his partly submerged rig.

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