When Randy Earl Duncan, 22, of New Denver, put his baby daughter’s safety first on April 28, he had no way of knowing it would be a final selfless act.
Duncan lost his life Thursday when the black F-350 pickup he was driving collided with a loaded tractor-trailer truck on the Monashee summit.
His girlfriend, the mother of his daughter, was hospitalized and required surgery.Their 6-month-old daughter was “scratchless,” said Cpl. Gerry Kovacs of the Vernon/North Okanagan RCMP, which responded to the scene 40 kilometers east of Cherryville on Highway 6.
“I talked to the dad (Roy Duncan of New Denver) this morning. The family is calling Randy their hero,” Kovacs said Monday.
On Thursday morning, Randy Duncan insisted on belting the baby’s carseat in behind the passenger seat, instead of behind the driver’s seat, which would have made tending to her on the trip easier for the baby’s mother.
“That morning, before they left, he was adamant he was going to belt the daughter in behind her mother. He said ‘The roads could be difficult up top and we don’t know what the roads could be like up there, and I want the baby to be safe.’ Fast forward the clock a couple hours, and there you go … (Randy Duncan) did not die in vain .. he saved both those girls,” Kovacs said.
Duncan’s insistence made the difference when a tractor-trailer rig loaded with wood chips lost its footing atop the Monashee Summit.
“The truck is eastbound through the summit, (Duncan’s) vehicle is westbound – we understand the tractor-trailer fails to negotiate a right-hand curve and tips over onto the roadway to its left,” Kovacs said.
“The tractor-trailer goes off road right, and the other vehicle goes off road left.”
Passing travellers saw the wreck and stopped.
“People who travel in that area know there’s no cell phone communications in that area – even the police have areas where radio communication is sketchy,” Kovacs said.
“They get the baby and the woman from the vehicle, and they basically begin heading toward Lumby and meet the ambulance on the highway … everyone was involved and stepped up and did what was required there.”
The report came in at 11:34 a.m.The baby and her mother were transported to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
The adult female suffered serious injuries and was later transferred to Kelowna General Hospital where she had surgery and is expected to recover fully.
The driver of the semi tractor trailer suffered minor injuries, according to RCMP reports.
The highway was closed for five hours for collision re-construction, reopening to single-lane traffic at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Although there had been snow in the area overnight, the road conditions were good at the time of the crash, Kovacs said.
The investigation is ongoing by North Okanagan Traffic Services. Authorities ask that anyone who may have witnessed the collision or the vehicles prior to the crash contact 250-541-7171.