SURREY, B.C. – It was just before 1 a.m. during an overnight cycling race when loud explosions disrupted the solace of a rider along Highway 1 in British Columbia.
At first, Craig Premack, 59, thought he was hearing firecrackers near Spences Bridge while he was taking part in a 600-kilometre, two-day cycling event called the Cache Creek 600.
“But then my right forearm just blew up,” Premack said at a police news conference Tuesday. “Seconds later I could feel the warmth of the blood rolling down my leg. I quickly realized that I had been shot and pedalled faster to escape.”
Premack said the bullet entered his right forearm, just below his elbow.
As he tried to make sense of what was happening, he saw a dark-coloured vehicle leaving a highway pullout.
“It was almost like a bad dream. I looked down and I could feel the blood. My goodness, I’ve been shot. I’ve really been shot. And all I could think was get away.”
Premack said he slowed the bleeding with a tourniquet he fashioned out of a pair of pants, and hoped his cycling buddies would soon come by.
He said some cyclists were 20 minutes ahead of him and others were 20 minutes behind him in the cycling event that runs from Metro Vancouver to B.C.’s southern Interior and back.
“After the longest 20 minutes of my life I could see the lights of what could only be my cycling friends. They were quick to react, with one of them riding back to Spences Bridge to summon help.”
RCMP Insp. Ed Boettcher told the news conference that police believe the potentially deadly incident near Lytton is random.
“We’re very fortunate today to be talking about a shooting and not a homicide,” he said.
“It was a completely and utterly violent act, one that could have been directed at any one of us.”
Boettcher said some cyclists have reported that two men in a pickup truck threw objects at them earlier in the race, though there is nothing to indicate that incident is connected to the shooting.
Premack said he was taken to a nearby hospital in Ashcroft before being transferred to Vancouver for surgery.
He appealed to anyone with information about who could be responsible for the shooting to contact police.
“The community at large needs to be protected from this person,” he said. “The outcome would be tragic should this ever happen again.”
The impact of the bullet turned the bone, about two centimetres below his elbow, into small fragments, Premack said, turning his arm to show where the bullet entered and exited.
“Over time those pieces are supposed to find each other and turn back into a bone.”
Premack said he won’t be able to return to work for several months and that he’s concerned about finances.
Although he can’t ride these days, the avid cyclist added: “I will for sure. There’s no question.”