Quarry landslide survivor speaks out about ordeal
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 1:59PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:19PM EST
As the search continues for two workers believed to be trapped in a Quebec quarry following a landslide, the man who managed to escape said Wednesday he’s thankful to be alive.
Benoit Robert addressed reporters at a hospital where he’s being treated for frostbite and minor injuries, thanking the rescue workers who pulled him out of the caved-in gravel pit on Tuesday.
The wall of the quarry in L’Epiphanie, about 50 kilometres north of Montreal, collapsed Tuesday morning, pulling in an excavator and two loading trucks that were on the siteinto the 100-metre-deep pit.
When the ground started moving below him, Robert said he thought he was having vision problems, but quickly realized what was happening.
A female co-worker who was in a nearby truck yelled: “We're sliding. We're going to die!” he said.
She and another male worker, both believed to be in their 40s, have been missing ever since.
Robert said he continued swinging the mechanical shovel he was operating back and forth in an effort to keep the excavator stable.
"I knew that if I jumped out I'd die immediately," said Robert.
That last-ditch effort worked, and he was able to ride the mud to the bottom of the pit -- then jump out and run away as more mud, gravel and slush slid from the top of the quarry to the bottom.
Robert, having survived the incident but not knowing the fate of his two co-workers, spent an hour walking around in the cold until a Surete du Quebec helicopter arrived and a rescue worker dangled above him, attaching him to a harness and lifting him to safety.
The traumatized man was transported to Le Gardeur hospital where he was treated for minor injuries, including shock and frostbite. There, he spoke to reporters, saying he needed to share his experience.
Visibly shaken, with slumped shoulders, Robert thanked God, his rescuers, police officers and paramedics.
"It's hard, what I went through. But I'm still here," Robert said.
"I'm lucky. Others weren't as lucky as me," he said.
Robert said he now wants to spend time alone with his family so he can recover.
With a report from CTV Montreal