National Post (National Edition)
`Absolute carnage' on snowy B.C. highway
Multi-vehicle crash kills 1, injures dozens
HOPE, B.C. • One person died and dozens were injured in a crash Wednesday involving multiple vehicles on a snow-blanketed highway in British Columbia.
Emergency Health Services said it received a call just before 10 a.m. about the crash on the Coquihalla Highway, a major route known for its treacherous conditions in winter.
The crash occurred just north of the Highway 3 turnoff near Hope, about 160 kilometres east of Vancouver.
Paramedics transported two patients to hospital by air in critical condition and three patients by ground in serious but stable condition. Crews also cared for another 34 patients with non-life-threatening injuries at the scene, Emergency Health Services said.
RCMP confirmed one person died of their injuries.
“Investigators and rescue personnel are extremely busy dealing with this significant incident,” said Cpl. Mike Halskov in an email.
He said the investigation is in its early stages but it appears that road and weather conditions in the area may be a major contributing factor to the collision.
Mitchell Danilak, a truck driver who managed to narrowly avoid becoming part of the accident, described the scene as “absolute carnage.”
“There was a trucker coming up the hill who was waving his hands for me to slow down ... I managed to get everything to stop but the people who came after me were not so fortunate. They were probably doing 70,” he said. Danilak say he watched four vehicles, including a police cruiser, join the mass pileup after his rig came to a stop.
B.C. is experiencing a cold snap with colder temperatures and more snow than usual in many parts of the province.
DriveBC, the provincial government road conditions website, showed packed and slushy roads near the junction while Environment Canada says temperatures in the area felt close to -20 C with the wind chill.
Traffic control personnel were at the scene and the Coquihalla, also known as Highway 5, was closed at the junction with Highway 3. The highway is a major fourlane route connecting the Lower Mainland and B.C.'s Interior.
Halskov urged drivers to consider delaying travel plans or to take an alternate route.
Emergency Health Services said multiple paramedic crews were dispatched to the scene, including 13 ground and three air ambulances, several supervisor units and multi-patient transit buses.
Crews were assisting other first responders with the transport of more than 30 patients to a nearby warming station in Hope.