It looks like a snowmobiler — who was out helping stranded motorists when he was hit by a semi-trailer travelling on a closed portion of highway — is doing OK considering his ordeal, according to a witness.
Meanwhile, that witness’s heartfelt video — in which he implores drivers to stay off highways when they’re closed due to bad weather — has gone viral after it was posted on Facebook.
"That wasn’t supposed to go viral, I’ve never done anything like that before," said Brandon resident Jordan Jones.
A blizzard shut down highways across Westman on Monday and Tuesday.
Approximately 78 vehicles were stranded on the Trans-Canada Highway, backed up west of Brandon due to a collision.
"When people say don’t drive on the highways when they’re closed, really, don’t drive on the highways when they’re closed," Jones said in the video, which he shot with his phone as he sat in his pickup truck shortly after he witnessed the snowmobile rider being struck.
Jones, himself a semi driver, had the day off on Tuesday due to the snowstorm, so he hopped in his pickup truck and went to help motorists who were stuck and stranded along the Trans-Canada Highway west of Brandon.
Some of the stranded were families that included children and seniors.
"If my family was out there, I’d definitely want someone to come help us," said Jones, a 28-year-old married father of two young girls.
Jones pulled out about a dozen stuck vehicles. Then, around noon, he pulled over to assist a motorist he’d seen spin and wind up in the ditch.
Three snowmobilers arrived to ask if they could help. Jones recognized them from earlier in the day as riders who had brought gas and refreshments to stranded travellers.
Jones told the riders that he could pull the vehicle out himself, and they were about to leave to help others when, emerging from the blowing snow that made visibility "horrible," Jones saw an eastbound semi approach along the ice-covered highway.
"He was flying," Jones said, estimating the semi’s speed to be at least 80 km/h. "You couldn’t hear him coming — the winds, they must have been 80 km/h to 90 km/h winds. You couldn’t hear."
Before he could shout a warning, the semi hit one of the snowmobilers who was on his machine on the eastbound lanes of the closed highway.
Rider and machine were launched into the north-side ditch. Jones and the rider’s friends rushed to his side. One of those friends had also been clipped by the semi but wasn’t injured.
The struck rider lay in the ditch, but was conscious. Jones tried to keep the rider still, while continuing to talk to him. Someone brought a blanket over to cover the injured man and Jones told another passerby to call 911.
Jones said the semi driver got out of his vehicle and blamed the Good Samaritans for being on the closed highway. Jones said the driver didn’t help, but went to sit inside his truck.
Jones held the man’s hand as they waited for help. Firefighters arrived in about 10 minutes. Unable to do more to assist, Jones passed the responding ambulance as he left the scene.
Brandon RCMP say the driver of the semi has been charged under the Highway Traffic Act for careless driving, and the investigation continues. They confirm that the highway was closed at the time of the collision.
The injured snowmobile rider was taken to hospital with injuries that police described as non-life-threatening.
Upset by what he saw and wishing to prevent other accidents, Jones publicly posted his warning video on Facebook.
The hurt rider must have been among the many who saw it because he messaged Jones on Tuesday evening, while the rider’s friend messaged him an update on the patient’s condition.
"He has a broken arm in a couple of spots, and a broken leg," Jones said. "As of last night, there’s no internal bleeding … He’s very lucky."
By mid-afternoon Wednesday, Jones’ video had 135,459 views and he’d received 100 messages. Messages came from across the world, and as far away as Australia.
Most of the messages thanked Jones for posting his safety warning, while others expressed concern that he may be traumatized by what he saw. Jones said he was initially shaken, but is now doing all right.
Video of the collision can be seen on the NZP Chasers Facebook and YouTube pages. The video is taken from a distance and isn’t graphic. The storm chasers posted the recording to emphasize the need for safety.