Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)

“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Kai Palkeinen was walking his dog near the Big Eddy Bridge on the Columbia River when he noticed water levels rising fast.

The area is below the Revelstoke dam and water levels can significantly fluctuate depending on the generation of electricity.

During his walk on April 20, Palkeinen noticed a Jetta Volkswagen stuck on the river bed.

“My first notion was that another idiot had driven down because there are no controls or restrictions,” he said.

While the river bed is closed to motorized vehicles, there are no barriers to restrict access and it’s common for cars to drive along the mudflats.

The RCMP said each year they respond to a handful of calls of people getting stuck in their vehicles as the river rises.

READ MORE: Updated: Vehicles abandoned on mud flats in Columbia River

Palkeinen realized the car would soon be flooded and the driver potentially in serious trouble. Palkeinen said it appeared the driver had been living in his car under the bridge for months.

He helped bring the driver’s belongings onto shore. To save the car from floating downstream and becoming “river trash”, Palkeinen told the driver to puncture the tires and open the car doors.

By this time, water was lapping onto the windshield.

Just hours earlier, the police had helped free the same Jetta from getting stuck in the sand along the Columbia River. After the tow, the driver told police he would be leaving the area.

However, four hours later the police returned to the same vehicle, stuck in a similar location, but now underwater.

The driver was issued two tickets by the RCMP for trespassing on enclosed land (land controlled by BC Hydro) and disobeying a traffic control (posted signs prohibiting motorized access). The tickets totalled $236.

The next day the Jetta was towed out of the river at the owner’s expense, said the RCMP.

READ MORE: Meet Christina Lustenberger — one of Revelstoke’s great skiers

Palkeinen said it’s common for people to camp or sleep in their vehicles by the Columbia River to save money on camping fees.

He said BC Hydro needs to put in concrete barriers to restrict access and that he has contacted the company on numerous occasions to do so.

“It’s insanity what happens under Big Eddy Bridge.”

The area is littered with garbage and human feces, said Palkeinen.

“I’m so tired of this. There’s a massive problem.”

In an emailed response to Black Press Media, BC Hydro said it will be reviewing its policies regarding public safety of Revelstoke Dam operations later this year.

“Given the recent incidents on the Columbia River flats, the assessment of risk and effectiveness of the existing controls in this location will be given particular attention,” said Jen Walker-Larsen, communications.

Mayor Gary Sulz also said he is looking into options for how motorized access could be better controlled in the area.

Palkeinen said it’s time for the community to better protect the Columbia River — one of the largest rivers in North America — as it’s one of the community’s greatest assets.

“I just sank a car in the Columbia River. Something needs to be done,” said Palkeinen.

While motorized use of the Arrow Lakes Reservoir flats is not permitted from the Revelstoke Dam downstream to the Illecillewaet River, it is allowed south of the Illecillewaet to Drimmie Creek at 12-mile.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Police

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of houston
Council dips into surplus for highway project

Costs have risen to place utility lines underground

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

Accessibility improvements and more classrooms at the Houston Christian School should be completed by the new school year. (Houston Today photo)
Accessibility improvements coming to Houston Christian School

Construction package includes two classrooms

The soft opening of the nature centre at the Buck Creek CANFOR hatchery took place mid-April. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)
Houston hatchery and nature centre’s upcoming events

The conservation group to host summer students this year

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Most Read