On Monday, May 16th, like any other training day for the Nothin Dragon, dragon boat team, before heading out on the water we were doing our warmups and stretches on the grassy picnic area to the left (west) of the boat ramp at Rocky Point Park.
Our coach, Erica was just coming in from leading the high school team she coaches and was walking down the wharf. We heard a car engine rev, and then accelerate, causing us to look up and within the blink of an eye, a red Toyota came pummeling through the boat parking area heading directly at our team warming up on the grass. The Nothin Dragon Masters is made up of men and women, 50 years plus, with some of the team in their early 80s. Several members were in the direct line of acceleration. Screams were heard and split-second decisions were made, as to which way to run to avoid being hit.
The car jumped the cement curb with increased speed heading straight through us toward the water. The car then made contact with a cement-secured park bench (still holding the paddles of team members). The bench and the car then went airborne over the rock embankment and landed in the water on rocks since the tide was on its way out, finally standing still, in water only up to the front wheel-well.
Coach Erica was walking her students through the gazebo, just east of the scene and saw it all take place. She ran to the car along with my teammate Charlie and she opened the passenger door. We heard the engine rev, shocked that the car was still running, and the driver still wanted the car to move.
Erica managed to get the motor turned off. The driver was conscious, but delirious it seemed. Several calls were made to 911 by onlookers, and an open line to BC Ambulance was maintained until they arrived on the scene.
Erica and Charlie stayed with the driver until the paramedics arrived. She told us later that the female driver said she was tired, and wanted to get home. She had tried several times to reengage the car to leave.
After the authorities arrived and were in control, and with all of us still very much in shock, our team gathered in a circle near the gazebo to take a moment to internalize what had just happened and to give thanks that no one was injured (save the driver).
Port Moody police officers approached us and took statements from team members. Some of our team who had arrived late, had seen the woman driving down the grass bank beside the Old Mill Boathouse just moments before the incident. The fact that no people were hurt or other vehicles damaged before she made that final leap, was a miracle.
Our coach suggested it might be good for us to continue with our practice (for those that wanted) to shake off the experience.
On our way to the dragon boat we watched as the first-responders helped the woman from her car, and covered her with a blanket. I was surprised she was able to walk over the rocks to a stretcher. She seemed completely dazed however.
We took our seats in the Dragonfly and Firefly, utterly grateful that no one was hurt, and headed out onto the water, a little numb, until the strokes put our bodies and minds in unison.
Upon returning to shore , we were surprised to see emergency vehicles were still there. The red Toyota was hoisted out of the water by a tow truck, and we returned to the comfort of our homes and families…
(Note: Much of this account was written by, or adapted from the words of our club’s president, Brian. No point rewriting what he articulated quite accurately.)
For more photos see the team’s Facebook page HERE.