A wayward boulder has stalled truck driver Matt Ruscheinski’s career for the time being.
The 44-year-old Langley resident, who has been hauling modular buildings for the past 20 years, was driving his custom-built truck past Spences Bridge, B.C. on Jan. 18 when his rig was crushed by a falling boulder.
Ruscheinski, who said he is stiff and sore from the accident and recovering at his Langley home, is now waiting for ICBC’s decision, since his truck was totalled by the giant rock.
“It happened super fast,” Ruscheinski said, about the incident in the Fraser Canyon.
“Basically, I was driving down the highway in a straight stretch of road for a little ways and I saw boulders the size of beach balls coming off the side hill.”
He has seen small rocks fall and hit the ground in his past travels, so with no traffic in sight, Ruscheinski moved his truck to the centre of the road to avoid them “in case any of them bounced on the road a little.”
But just as he was approaching the small rocks, an entire section of the rock wall gave way.
“Everything fell right in front of me,” Ruscheinski said. “It was literally in the blink of an eye. I don’t even think I was able to hit the brake pedal before I hit the rock.”
Ruscheinski said the sound of the boulder hitting the front driver’s side of his truck “was a giant crunching noise.”
“I went from 80 km/h to nothing in about three feet,” Ruscheinski said. “It was instant. Thank God I had my seat belt on.”
He says his back and left shoulder are pretty sore from the accident, because of the way his seatbelt grabbed him and pushed him back.
“I took the dashboard to the leg and my left hand took a pretty good wallop between the dashboard and the windshield, because I was holding onto the steering wheel,” Ruscheinski said.
While he has been stuck behind fallen rocks, waiting for highways to reopen, this is the first time Ruscheinski has been directly involved in a rockslide
“I’ve been stuck behind mudslides and the odd avalanche, stuff like that, but nothing like this,” Ruscheinski said. “I’ve never been in any kind of accident, anywhere close to this.”
Ruscheinski said he’s lucky to be alive, but unlucky in the sense that he had just finished building his truck.
“I’ve been in the industry for a lot of years, but this is kind of my first step into going in as an owner/operator,” he said. “It’s a little stressful now, at this point.”
Ruscheinski said ICBC has already declared the accident an “act of God.”
“It wasn’t my fault or anything, but I still haven’t heard back from them as to what, or when, or how they are paying me out or anything, so basically I’m sitting in limbo, not making any money while they’re figuring their stuff out,” Ruscheinski said on Thursday, Jan. 24.
“It’s not like you can make another truck appear. It’s not like you can go and rent one of these trucks anywhere to go back to work. I’m kind of stuck waiting.”