By Marianne Curtis
A sixty-one year old Niverville man is dead after the vehicle he was driving was swept away by flood waters earlier in April.
On April 9, St. Pierre RCMP and the RCMP Dive Team were called in to recover the body of Raymond Stott, who went missing Wednesday night.
Police report that Stott drowned after the vehicle he was in was swept away by floodwaters while he was trying to cross a portion of Allarie Road, in the RM of De Salaberry.
Gary Stott, the victims brother says that he lived in the area and used the road daily for work purposes so he was stunned by the accident.
“There were no barricades on the road,” said his brother Gary Stott. “He got caught up in the current and took his truck off the road and into 15 feet of water.”
Stott leaves behind one grandson and three children.
Nine days after the accident, RCMP, family members and experts gathered at the site to demonstrate what happens when a vehicle falls victim to floodwaters.
On April 18, Gordon Giesbrecht met at the scene of the accident to give a visual demonstration while he filmed an instructional video on how dangerous it is for drivers to cross a flooded roadway. Known as “Professor Popsicle”, he is a world expert on cold-water survival and safety, and has demonstrated lifesaving techniques on the Rick Mercer Report and The Late Show With David Letterman. Giesbrecht, along with the RCMP Underwater Recovery Team filmed a demonstration video on the perils of driving onto a flooded road or highway.
The location was chosen at the suggestion of the Stott family, who support any efforts to prevent similar tragedies from occurring again. Stott, who was present at the demonstration admitted that it was difficult to watch the scenario that depicted what had occurred over a week earlier.
“My brother was familiar with this area and the flood patterns,” Stott explained. “If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.”
“Few people realize that a vehicle can float in as little as 16 to 18 inches of water,” says Giesbrecht. “The problem is exasperated if the water is flowing – once the vehicle floats it can quickly be pushed off the road and over ditches where the water is deep enough to be submerged and drown its occupants.”
If ever in a vehicle that begins floating, Giesbrecht says to never reach for your cell phone.
“Unbuckle your seatbelt then open your windows, get any children unbuckled and then get out,” Giesbrecht says. “If you have to drive through water, make sure it is no more than 12 inches deep, undo your seatbelt and open your window before proceeding. If your vehicle floats, get out immediately.”
During the demonstration, it took only two minutes and twenty seconds for the vehicle to be swept into the current and completely submerged.