A 78-year-old man from Ramea wanted to get home before a storm hit, but the rough conditions left him stranded and alone on the side of the Burgeo highway for almost 12 hours.
Jack Sibley, who had travelled to Stephenville for a doctor’s appointment, decided to leave there just before 2 a.m. Tuesday to try and catch the ferry to Ramea.
It’s a 180-kilometre drive that would normally take about two hours.
But by 4:30 a.m. Sibley was nowhere near his destination, and he ran into trouble.
“I went on too close to the shoulder of the road and she slipped down in the snow,” he told the Corner Brook Morning Show.
“I couldn’t get the door opened first cause it was so much wind blowing right on the door,” he said.
“I got it open and got out. When my feet hit the ground I slipped down, slipped down on my back. I got hold of the door and I got the door shut. It hit the wind out of me.”
There is no cellphone service along the remote highway to Newfoundland’s south coast, and no traffic on that blustery day, so Sibley waited.
Around 7:30 a.m. Sibley, a diabetic, needed to take medication, but the water bottle next to him was empty.
“I pulled the the window down and reached out with my fingers and take some of the ice off the windows and put it in me mouth and take my pill. I did that four times until I had all my pills taken,” he said.
Tried to sleep
Sibley rationed out the two muffins he had with him and watched as 4:30 a.m. turned to 4 p.m.
“The radio was good, a bit cracky. I had music sometimes. I had no book.”
‘I got away with it this time, but I can’t do anything like that again.’
– Jack Sibley
He was trying to get some sleep when he heard a bang on the car window.
“I almost jumped out of the seat. There is two guys who were there then with a bunch of skidoos on the road. They said, ‘We’re going to get you out now and get you all suited up and take you on a Ski-Doo. We’re going back to Peter Strides.”
The volunteer searchers bundled him up in extra clothes and carried him back to Peter Strides Pond, a popular cabin area off the Burgeo Highway.
It was his first snowmobile ride, and one he won’t forget.
Stew for supper
“Well before I got to Peter Strides I said, ‘I should have stayed in the car’ … the bounce and the goin’ and you couldn’t see the road. All of a sudden we seen another guy ahead of us, I said, ‘We’re going anyway.'”
The searchers brought him to a cabin where he had a supper of stew. He watched some television and fell asleep.
The next morning, the local searchers pulled his car back onto the road and he continued along Route 480 to catch the ferry.
Sibley got home to Ramea at 7 p.m. Wednesday to find that his wife wasn’t too pleased about his adventure.
“I got away with it this time, but I can’t do anything like that again because I don’t think I’d get off with it next time,” he said.