A Cell Phone Left for Dead Saved His Life

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May 8, 2002  

A Cell Phone Left for Dead Saved His Life

Canada: Steven Stacey, hurt and far from help, found salvation in his glove compartment.

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, Canada -- A man who spent last weekend at the bottom of a steep embankment after a car crash that broke his back was saved by a deactivated cell phone that still allowed him to call 911.

Steven Stacey, 48, lost control of his car Friday night on a rural road near Quesnel in central British Columbia.

His vehicle plunged down an embankment and landed upside-down nearly 80 feet from the road. Stacey found himself suspended by his seat belt.

"It took me five hours to get the seat belt off," Stacey said from his bed at a hospital in Quesnel, where he is being treated for severe hypothermia, dehydration and several fractures. "I tried to burn it with my cigarette lighter."

Stacey spent the first night in the car, using a seat cover like a sleeping bag.

Over the next two nights, a snowstorm dropped about 8 inches of wet snow on the overturned car.

When he was conscious, he cried for help. But no one heard him. By Saturday, he tried to crawl up the embankment. His injuries forced him back down.

Stacey has lived in the area for 18 years but, unemployed and with no family living nearby, he knew that no one would miss him.

He survived by eating ice.

"It was a godsend to have something wet," Stacey said.

It was Sunday when he remembered his old, deactivated cell phone, locked in the glove compartment. He'd bought a new one Friday, but it wasn't working yet.

But breaking into the glove compartment proved difficult because of his injuries.

By the time he had the phone out and was attempting a 911 call, it was dawn Monday.

The emergency feature still worked. He reached an operator, who told him to call back in five minutes.

"But then my phone went dead," he said.

Within minutes, he heard sirens, but they were searching too far away.

He tried the phone again and reached an operator who directed the rescuers to him.

Andrea Lindsay, the hospital's nursing unit coordinator, said Stacey broke his lower back, ribs and breastbone.

Sgt. Gary Clark-Marlow said Stacey was extraordinarily lucky to survive the crash, let alone his ordeal.
 

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