Driver says he’s lucky to be alive, saddened by loss of dog

  • Jun. 16, 2005 8:00 a.m.

“I am thanking my lucky stars for sure, said Mike Stelmaschuk, the 23-year old driver of the fuel truck that flipped and spilled its fuel beside Marie Lake Wednesday. “From what I hear, the damage is pretty extensive and I am pretty lucky to get out of there”, he told the Observer from his home in Masset Thursday morning.
The North Arm Transportation tanker, heading from Masset to Rennell Sound, was carrying about 18,000 litres of diesel fuel when it slid on some loose gravel around 11:00 am Wednesday morning, plunged down a 30-metre embankment and ended up upside down, a gaping hole in its side, spilling the diesel fuel into the bush and into Marie Lake, prime fish habitat and the site of a fish hatchery.
From his home in Masset Thursday morning, Mr. Stelmaschuk told us he really didn’t know what happened, “it happened so fast. I could feel it lifting on me, and then I tumbled.”
Mr. Stelmaschuk had his dog with him in the cab at the time of the accident. He was looking for it shortly afterwards, but it never turned up, and even late Wednesday afternoon, there was no sign of it.
“I had a little dog in there, and I think he took it for me,” Mr. Stelmaschuk said. “The hardest thing is losing my dog. I talked to one of my co-workers this morning. They found my keys and my wallet inside the cab, but no sign of the dog.” Mr. Stelmaschuk also said the dog was “a poodle/terrier cross, a little white guy named ‘Puddles’. If anything, I’d like to have his collar back.”
Mr. Stelmaschuk suffered some shoulder injuries and was treated and released from Masset hospital Wednesday. He was resting at home on Thursday. He moved from Prince Rupert only in April to take the job with North Arm.