Change Islands man recounts dump truck falling off ferry

Christy Janes christy.janes@pilotnl.ca
Published on February 9, 2016
A dump truck sits nearly completely submerged in water after it fell of the ferry MV Capt. Earl W. Winsor during unloading operations. Submitted photo by Jeffrey Powell
Submitted photo by Jeffrey Powell

Dean Snow of Change Islands backed his dump truck onto the MV Earl W. Winsor Monday night like he’s done many times before, but this trip turned near fatal.

Snow operates a snow-clearing business and has the contract for the island and was returning to Change Islands with 14 tonnes of sand in his dump truck.

Once the vessel reached the wharf, Snow was preparing to exit. He had the window rolled down and was keeping a close eye on the truck.

According to Snow, crews threw one rope out and secured it around the grump, but it wasn’t tight.

“They threw the rope out to the wharf and one of the guys said 'OK to go,' ” he told The Pilot. “As I was driving off the ramp, the boat was sliding, the rope was out, but it wasn’t tight.”

With his head out the window, Snow knew the boat wasn’t going to stop.

The next thing he knew the cables had burst and he heard a crunching sound as the ramp went up against the wharf.

“There was about two feet — the ramp was about two feet on the dock and I seen her coming and the rope was still slack and I knew then,” he said.

Snow wasn’t expecting the cables to burst, but then they did.

 “She went down with a bang,” he said.

He heard the headlights pop and as far as Snow can tell they came out of the truck.

“I had about five seconds to get out on the wharf,” he recalled.

He tried to open his door, but it was up against the ramp. It wouldn’t open, so Snow jumped out through the window, up on to the fender and then the hood and called for help.

“I called out to two guys on the wharf and said, ‘You’ve got to help me. I’m going,’” Snow said.

He narrowly missed falling into the icy waters, but caught himself.

 “It was kind of careless because if they had the rope tight, it wouldn’t have happened and they only had one rope where there was supposed to be two or three,” he said. “There’s no excuse.”

As he stood on the shore he described a feeling of disbelief and he stood up watching his dump truck sink as the ferry was moved from the ramp.

While his operations will be affected by the loss, Snow said the season isn’t lost. He also has a truck with a plow and a loader with a plow so he can carry on with his business.

“(The) Transportation (department) said they would help the best they can,” he said. “Everything should be good now, I’m starting to come around.”

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Earlier story

Dump truck falls off ferry