WATER VALLEY, Alta. – A man and a woman are in hospital after a bone-chilling night in the wilderness that happened when their sport-utility vehicle tumbled 60 metres down an embankment northwest of Calgary.
The couple went off a remote section of Highway 579 in the Water Valley area about 8:00 p.m. Sunday.
Emergency officials say the badly injured pair managed to crawl out of the wreckage and start a fire to stay warm.
It wasn't until about 14 hours later that the woman found her cellphone and climbed up the embankment to call for help.
The 41-year-old man was flown to Calgary in serious but stable condition with leg and back injuries, while the 42-year-old woman was sent to the Didsbury hospital in stable condition.
Both also suffered from mild exposure.
Ghost River fire Chief Tom McFadden says the two were fortunate to make it through their ordeal.
"Oh, they're extremely lucky. This is in excess of a 45-degree slope,'' said McFadden.
"The lady was wearing shorts and a light shirt. The gentleman had fallen in the creek when he got out of the vehicle to get across to where they were hiding in the trees with a little fire.''
After making the emergency call, the woman built a pile of stones by the roadside to mark the crash site, then returned to the man to wait for help.
Rescuers had to climb down a steep slope to get to the pair, who had landed in dense bush.
"When I looked over there I expected significantly more injuries to both patients than there was actually,'' said McFadden.
The RCMP is investigating whether road conditions were a factor in the crash.
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