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    Default It was a heli-tow operation

    Text By Doug Marner - Cowichan News Leader and Pictorial

    Published: November 16, 2009 9:00 AM
    Updated: November 16, 2009 9:23 AM

    0 Comments Ryan Eve knew exactly when his 1992 Mazda pickup truck was stolen from his Mesachie Lake home on Forestry Road.

    It was at about 2:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    "We could hear someone drive off with it," said Eve. "The muffler makes enough noise that I think they just decided to gun it and take off rather than sneak away."

    Just two hours later, someone driving the Pacific Marine Circle Route reported to police that there was a truck partially submerged in Harris Creek, about 24 kilometres south of Mesachie Lake. It was Eve's truck. No one was located with the vehicle.

    Sgt. Dave Voller of the Lake Cowichan RCMP then had to make a decision. With an estimated 10,000 coho salmon and steelhead in the creek and the chances of more rain swelling the water that would then push the truck onto some rocks downstream, how was he going to get the truck out of the water without causing environmental damage?

    Using a tow truck to get the truck out wouldn't likely work and time was critical.

    "I didn't want to wait because if that truck got onto the rocks there would have been all kinds of oil, gasoline, brake fluid, antifreeze and battery acid getting into the stream," said Voller. "That just isn't acceptable as far as I'm concerned, not with all those fish in the creek."

    He got into communications with Canadian Air-Crane Ltd. of Vancouver, which was doing some heli-logging in the area.

    In the end, Voller decided to have Canadian Air-Crane help and just after 4 p.m. on Thursday a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane, with Mark Allan and Brian Penner flying the aircraft, came to the rescue, with Penner as the pilot.

    Flying down through the clouds like a giant grasshopper, with the main propellor causing hurricane force wind that makes it dangerous to stand anywhere underneath the craft, they located the blue truck and like surgeons expertly lowered the crane cable and clamped the claws onto the roof of the vehicle.

    The truck, which buckled from the force of the claws, was lifted out of the water and onto an opening beside the road. It took less than 15 minutes.

    From a distance it looked like it was a dinky toy that was being pulled out of the creek. With a lifting force of about 20,000 pounds, it was indeed an easy pick up.

    After the truck was retrieved and safely on the ground, Eve, his mother Glynis and his brother Justin gave the vehicle the once over. It appeared the only thing to survive the ordeal was a new welded bumper that Ryan had attached to the front of the truck.

    Although his insurance will cover the damage, Ryan clearly was attached to the truck that he had spent some money fixing up.

    Voller said keys were still in the ignition, with several other types of keys also on a chain. He said it appears the thief or thieves had a set of keys and tried each one until the ignition was triggered.

    "I've been with the force for 29 years and I've never seen anything like that," said Voller. "It was a heli-tow operation."

    The Lake Cowichan RCMP ask that anyone with information about the truck theft to call the Lake Cowichan detachment at 250-749-6668 or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

    PHOTOCREDIT? A Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane zeroes in a stolen pick-up truck ditched in Harris Creek.
    Doug Marner
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