A nurse from Alberta and her three children escaped injury this week after a front wheel on her SUV flew off after visiting family in the Okanagan.
Fortunately, says the woman, no one was hurt while they were travelling at highway speeds along the Trans-Canada near Canmore on Thursday.
The woman, from Blackfalds, Alta., and her father, who lives in Summerland, B.C., both think all five lug nuts on the wheel of her Honda Pilot were intentionally loosened sometime during her three-week stay in the Okanagan.
“I do feel that,” Krista Paulsen told Global News on Saturday, “because (the tow-truck driver) checked the other lug nuts and they were on tight.”
In May, police in the Okanagan warned Peachland residents of lug nuts being loosened after reports of loose wheels.
Two weeks later, that warning was extended to West Kelowna after more reports of loosened lug nuts.
The two don’t have any proof that the lug nuts were loosened in Summerland, but point to the fact that all five flew off.
“It had been several months since she had the tires changed, and there had been no problem with it,” Paulsen’s father, Rick Bigland, said on Saturday.
“She had been in Summerland since July 4th, and the vehicle was mainly parked at my house. We used my vehicle mainly while she was here.
“All five of the lug nuts had come off. I can’t think of any reason for lug nuts to come off a tire just by themselves, especially all five of them.”
Global News has reached out to Summerland RCMP regarding the incident.
Paulsen said during her drive home on Thursday, she noticed a rumble in the moments leading up to the wheel falling off.
“We noticed it a little bit before (it fell off),” said Paulsen. “I was like, ‘Am I losing air? Am I driving on a bit of a flat (tire)?’
“We were going to stop in Canmore and fill it up and just check it out. Then it seemed to get louder, then quieter. Then it got really loud.”
Paulsen said her kids told her they could feel a rumble in the back seat.
And then Paulsen said she felt “a big old clunk and I don’t quite recall how everything happened, but I was looking out my window, and there goes my tire rolling up the highway as I was moving over to the side of the highway.”
Paulsen said, “now that I think about it — oh my God, we were so lucky.”
She doesn’t know how she switched from the far left lane to the shoulder without crashing, and how her wheel didn’t hit another vehicle.
“If that had happened outside Golden, when I was coming home, where it’s all cliff, I don’t know where I would have gone or what I would have done,” said Paulsen, “because there would have been nowhere to go.
“Either we would have gotten rear-ended … I don’t know how we’re 100 per cent OK.”
Paulsen said that it had been some time since her wheels had been taken off, and that her Honda had been mechanically inspected a month before leaving for B.C.
“I don’t see how they would have missed them being loose enough that they could just fall off, and it was all five of them,” said Paulsen.
“Not just one going loose, but all five.”
Paulsen mentioned that a motorist from Newfoundland who recently moved to Canmore pulled over and accompanied her and her children for three hours until things were sorted out.
The father and daughter also wonder if the Honda was targeted because it has Alberta plates
Global Okanagan has received many emails and calls from area residents furious over seeing out-of-province plates in the region, be it from Alberta or America, and visitors from other parts of British Columbia. The anger stems from novel coronavirus concerns and the possible spread of COVID-19.
The two hope that licence plate anger isn’t the case and that it was just a random incident.
“This has definitely taught me a few things,” said Paulsen, who said she will be frequently checking her wheels now and still plans on travelling to B.C. to visit mom and dad.
“I’m kind of a chill, easy-going person. One person being really, really rude isn’t going to change anything for me.”
“I’m extremely glad that her and my grandchildren are safe as a result of this,” said Bigland. “Congrats to my daughter for managing to control the vehicle in a circumstance like that and get it off to the side of the road safely.
“It seems really senseless to put not just my daughter and my grandkids (in danger), but also the travelling public. There could have been all kinds of people injured in this.
“It’s senseless. There’s no point to this.”