Jesse Miller never expected to receive a Police Board Commendation from the Abbotsford Police Department.
Yet that’s just what the 100 Mile House resident received earlier this month at the Abbotsford Police Department’s 2022 Awards Celebration. The recognition was given for actions Miller took on Jan. 11, 2022 that saved the life of an elderly motorist.
“I try to make a pattern of it. If I see people in need I think if you can be of some assistance (you should offer it),” Miller said. “As we go about our lives we have inclinations to help people, and you never know the consequences when you don’t take that.”
The 29-year-old said he was driving home on a cold and rainy night when he still lived in Abbotsford. While passing by a ravine that led to the Fraser River near Mount Lehman Road he spotted a car that had driven off the road and crashed into a tree.
Noticing that the headlights were still on and that the driver’s door was open, Miller chose to pull over and check on the driver. When he saw that there was no one in the vehicle he began to look down the embankment.
“With the rain, you’d think the driver would have waited in the vehicle for a tow truck,” Miller said. “So I hollered ‘Is anyone out there?’ and heard this heart-wrenching moan of distress. I thought it could be anyone’s grandma, down in the mud, sliding further and further down the ravine.”
After crashing, the driver had tried getting out of her vehicle and had slipped on the wet ground, injuring herself and sliding down the embankment. She had lain there for two hours in the cold until Miller arrived and assured her help was on the way.
Miller drove home to grab his own rescue supplies and told his mother to call 9-1-1. When he returned to the scene he used cargo straps and a tow rope to lower himself down the ravine, where he found the woman. As he worked to bring her back to the road the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service arrived and completed the rescue.
“With the firefighter’s help we got her into a basket and pulled her out into the ambulance there,” Miller said. “By the time I reached her, she was hypothermic and they figured another hour or two in those conditions she would have passed away. I was just in the right place at the right time and gave her a little more time on this Earth.”
Miller said a month after the incident he moved to 100 Mile House and took over Gopher Rentals with his wife. He grew up “weekending” in the area and had grown tired of living in Abbotsford.
“We wanted to come up and join a small town, and we did that and love it here,” Miller said.
When he got the invitation to attend the awards celebration months later, Miller was caught off guard. Getting recognized was a unique and special experience, especially at an event geared toward police officers.
Miller said he hung the award up at Gopher Rentals as a conversation piece for his customers. There are lots of stories like his in the South Cariboo, and it’s not as irregular as it is in Abbotsford.
“More people are aware and willing around here to help their neighbour. We go through challenging seasons in these parts, whether it’s snow or fire, and people sometimes need each other,” Miller said.
“I think there’s more of an exposure to events that bind people together. It’s hard to do it all out here on your own.”