On a dark and rainy November night, Laidlaw resident Justin Wynker and his 12-year-old son were on their way to Chilliwack for drum practice when he saw something strange along the side of the highway.
“It was raining really, really hard and it was really dark. And I came around the corner I thought I saw something around the corner of my eye,” he said of the Nov. 5 night. “I thought I saw some headlights in the median, which is kind of weird. I thought I kind of saw a little bit of a shine…and possibly somebody standing there.”
Knowing the area sees a lot of accidents, Wynker decided to turn around. Doubling back east along Highway 1 to the Jones Lake exit, Wynker then turned around and drove the same stretch of Highway 1 westbound before he spotted the man just after the Peters Road exit.
That man was 18-year-old Elijah John, who had nearly given up hope after escaping from the wreckage of his car before trying to flag down help along the highway.
Last week, The Hope Standard wrote about John’s car crash and his family’s search for the man and his son who stopped to help him, without which they believe he would not be here today. After commenting on the story on Facebook, The Hope Standard reached out to Wynker for his version of events.
When Wynker found John he was in rough shape. Just how injured he was was not clear at that point but Wynker could see he was soaked from the rain, his arm was bloody and his clothing was ripped. Wynker put him into the passenger seat of his truck as his son climbed into the back seat and quickly called 911.
“I asked him his name and he managed to get it out. Then I asked him if he was married and he said ‘I wish’,” Wynker said, laughing as he remembered John’s answer.
Wynker could tell John was in a very bad state as the young man couldn’t remember any names of family members to call. He was close to passing out, so Wynker kept speaking with him to keep him awake. He placed jackets on top of him to keep him warm.
All of this happened within a span of about 20 minutes. The ambulance then arrived and John was taken to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. He now faces a long recovery from injuries which range from a large skin graft, fractured ribs and neck and the possibility of his lungs collapsing again after this happened in the accident.
Wynker says he’s no hero, rather turning around is just what you do in a situation like this. “If there’s somebody that needs help, you just grab them and do what you’ve got to do,” he said.
While some may believe motorists may have passed John on purpose, Wynker thinks it was the conditions that night that made it nearly impossible to make out a person standing at the side of the highway.
“I’m not surprised that nobody else stopped, I don’t think that anybody even saw him there,” he said. “I think plenty of people would have stopped if they’d seen him.”
But he is glad he found John when he did.
“He was pretty delirious when he was in the truck. It was so dark, if there was a big semi-truck coming around the corner and he was standing right on the shoulder or stumbling out in the road, nobody would have seen him,” Wynker said.
Is there more to this story?