The man who crashed into his pickup truck and trailer into a Langford home along the 2700-block of Sooke Road on Monday afternoon is sharing his story.
Shane Robertson, 52, said he had a cough-induced syncope and the moment he crashed into the home, he was unconscious.
“Once I started coughing, I realized I needed to pull off to the side of the road,” Robertson said. “Before I knew it I was in the house. Once the fog cleared from my head, I started panicking. I wanted to make sure everyone was OK.”
The last time Robertson experienced a medical event like this was nearly three years ago. His doctors performed brain scans, ECGs, and many other trials before diagnosing him. Cough-induced syncope is a temporary loss of consciousness due to a lack of blood flow to the brain, caused by intense coughs.
“I don’t recall anything, that’s the scariest part,” he said. “You cough, and then you’re unconscious. There’s no real way to describe how it feels.”
The more widely known version of this diagnosis is vasovagal syncope, in which an individual may faint due to triggers, such as the sight of blood or during an extremely emotional episode.
Robertson says the last time he experienced this kind of medical episode before was nearly three years ago. He says he’s learned how to cough in a particular way and tries to simply avoid coughing altogether.
Doctors have told him that he won’t be able to get behind the wheel until they determine him fit to operate a vehicle, which may be for the foreseeable future. This will affect his small family-run business, Sooke Gutter.
“It’s just me and another guy that run the majority of it,” Robertson said. “I’m gonna have to teach my wife how to drive the truck and trailer because this is my only source of income. The toughest thing is that this condition never goes away.”
Robertson is relieved that there were no injuries, as the situation could have been much worse – and he isn’t the only one.
Jennifer Stevenson lives in the residence at 2744 Sooke Rd. She saw the entire crash unfold before her eyes.
“I was cleaning up Halloween decorations [in the front room] when I heard a whooshing sound,” the mother said. “It all happened so quickly. I saw the truck break through the fence and hit the house like a comet, blasting through the house. My 10-year-old daughter flew right off the sofa, but she was alright.”
Stevenson says the windshield wipers of the truck were still going as the dust settled. Then, Robertson came over to apologize and make sure everyone was safe.
“I just remember repeatedly saying to my daughter, ‘It’s gonna be OK,’” Stevenson said.
The family spent the night at a nearby hotel, but are now searching for a place to stay until they can return to their crumbling home.
In the midst of the crash on Monday, the family of five briefly lost their 12-year-old cat, Sapphire. Luckily, they found the cat on Tuesday afternoon hiding in the front room that had been boarded up the night before.
“We’re really lucky. It’s one of those ‘count your blessings’ moments. It could’ve been so much worse.”