Montreal boy buried in snowbank for hours
Published Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:38PM EST
A Montreal-area boy survived a harrowing experience this week, after he spent hours buried in a snowbank after a snow-clearing front-end loader dumped more than a metre of snow on him.
Olivier Prescott, 7, was playing outside in Longueuil, on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River directly across from the city of Montreal, on Monday, when the incident occurred.
Prescott was in a school yard, while his mother was across the street clearing snow from her own driveway.
A front-end loader was clearing snow near the school and the operator didn't see the playing boy on the other side of a snowbank and proceeded to dump a large scoop-full of snow on him.
"The tractor (went) around the back, I stayed here," the youngster told CTV Montreal, pointing at the snowbank, "and poof, I fall."
He was instantly buried. And, even though his disappearance was noted right away, he could not be found.
"I think I was dead," Prescott said Wednesday, playing around in the same snowbank that nearly took his life days earlier.
He said he tried to think good thoughts at the bottom of that pile, unable to move.
"I was thinking of the birthday of my mum," he said.
Police, area residents and the boy's family mounted a frantic three-hour search until he was eventually saved by a neighbour.
The mother, Stephanie Prescott, thought the boy might have been kidnapped and went door-to-door looking for him. Eventually, a neighbour mentioned the snowplow, and they started digging near the school.
At first, they just struck ice, and Stephanie Prescott went to look elsewhere.
But a neighbour, Barry Haigh, had a gut feeling and kept digging alongside his brother, eventually finding the boy's boot.
"My brother came across his boot and we start moving away the snow . . . and then the little boy kept saying ‘I'm here, I'm here,' in a weak voice," Haigh told CTV Montreal. "Then my brother pulled him out."
The young boy was taken to hospital and released a few hours later. Remarkably, he is in excellent condition now, without a scratch on him.
"He was white, and maybe a bit blue, but after 30 minutes in the hospital, he was OK," Stephanie Prescott said.
His hat, the young boy said, protected his face from the elements.
The tractor operator was in a "state of shock" Wednesday and was clearly upset by the near-tragic events.
"I always say to myself, ‘I should have seen him,'" Rene Huberdeau said. "I should have seen him, but there I couldn't see."
Police called the incident an accident.
The owner of the snowclearing company said he was going to recommend to school boards that schools lock up their playgrounds during snow removal operations.
The city of Montreal and its boroughs were digging out of a major snowstorm on Monday, after a wintry weather system closed schools and caused havoc on roads across Quebec.
By the end of the day, the storm had dumped between 15 and 70 centimetres of snow on the province.
Even though thousands of vehicles were dispatched to clear snow from the streets and sidewalks around Montreal by 10 am Monday morning, officials expected the operation to take up to five days.
With a report from CTV's Aphrodite Salas in Montreal