The section of Highway 3A where a truck plunged over a cliff on Sunday afternoon.

The section of Highway 3A where a truck plunged over a cliff on Sunday afternoon.

Nelson RCMP say crash victim ‘fortunate to be alive’

A Castlegar man sustained only minor injuries after his truck tumbled over a cliff just west of Nelson on Sunday.

A 38-year-old Castlegar man escaped with only minor injuries after his pick-up truck plunged off a cliff just west of Nelson.

Just after 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nelson RCMP received a call about a single vehicle accident on Highway 3A about a half kilometre west of the park-and-ride at the city’s boundary.

The 2008 Ford Ranger was travelling towards Nelson when the driver apparently fell asleep behind the wheel. The truck flipped down an estimated 50 metres of vertical rocky terrain and came to rest on a flat area of the Canadian Pacific Railway property.

“The driver is very fortunate to be alive,” said Nelson RCMP Staff Sgt. Dan Seibel. “This is an excellent example that seatbelts save lives. If the driver had not been wearing his seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle, as it travelled down the cliff, he would likely have not survived this terrible incident.”

The truck was not blocking the railway tracks, but was difficult for rescue officials to access. It came rest near an area known as Shirley Beach and Nelson Search and Rescue members were brought in by boat while Nelson Fire and Rescue crews scrambled down the rocky bank to help free the man from the truck.

Once the man was removed from the truck he was put on a member of the public’s pontoon boat that had also come ashore. The man was transported to the city wharf with BC Ambulance crews and then brought to Kootenay Lake Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.

The truck was completely destroyed to the point where rescue team members said there was not a part that did not have a dent in it.

RCMP will continue their investigation, but say alcohol was not a factor in the crash. No other vehicles or people were involved in the incident.