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

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is an independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s 1st vaccine-induced blood clot case detected in Interior Health

Interior Health also recorded 52 new cases of COVID-19

(Kamloops This Week file photo)
Probe into TNRD spending taken over by federal police unit

Financial Integrity Sensitive Investigations Unit is now reviewing the case

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

An alleged suspect in two Cache Creek crimes was caught on surveillance camera in April 2021,and police are hoping someone can identify him. (Photo credit: RCMP)
Alleged suspect in Cache Creek crimes caught on video

Police are hoping someone can identify man who is a suspect in two Cache Creek incidents

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Most Read