Coquihalla Highway pileup: 1 dead, dozens injured in B.C. crash involving multiple vehicles
Feb. 11 update: Latest information on the crash here.
VANCOUVER -- One person has died and dozens are injured following a terrifying multi-vehicle crash on Highway 5, B.C. officials say.
The crash was reported at around 9:40 a.m. Wednesday about five kilometres north of the Highway 5 split with Highway 3, near Hope.
"The road conditions were atrocious," said Mitchell Danilak, an Alberta truck driver.
Danilak stopped his truck after coming upon the initial accident scene, then watched it get worse as more vehicles piled up.
"There was a tractor-trailer that came down the hill way too fast … and hit the guardrail. And the police officer hit the guardrail and everybody just piled into each other," he said. "Just screeching tires, broken glass, the twisting of metal. It's a sound I won't forget."
RCMP said in addition to one fatality, several people sustained life-threatening injures. Two were airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital and several others were taken away in ambulances.
Another 34 people were assessed and cared for after suffering non-life-threatening injuries, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services, which said a total of 13 ambulances and three air ambulances attended the scene.
An Ebus with 20 passengers onboard was also involved in the collision. Ebus operations manager Glen Desjardine said the bus was en route from Vancouver to the B.C. Interior at the time.
He said the driver had reduced his speed and safely stopped before the accident scene, but that a "fully loaded transport truck came around the corner and ultimately rear-ended our parked motorcoach."
Fortunately, no one on the bus was injured. Everyone was wearing seatbelts.
"When the impact occurred, it jarred our vehicle forward and (the driver) was able to steer it in a safe direction," said Desjardine.
He believes if the bus hadn't been there, the truck would have barrelled into many other vehicles, causing many more injuries.
Desjardine said the accident occurred on a notorious stretch of highway.
"It's got a very sweeping, steep corner. Especially this time of year, it never sees any sunlight," he said. "I think the Ministry of Transportation should take a look at that. I think highway maintenance should be focusing on that section."
Danilak said conditions were very icy at the time of the crashes.
"There was next to nothing for sand or salt on this downward stretch of the curve," he said.
Highway 5 northbound remained closed throughout the day, and an evening updated from DriveBC estimated it would not reopen until 9:30 p.m.
Anyone with more information on the crash, including dash-cam video, is asked to call Fraser Valley Traffic Services in Chilliwack.
There were weather warnings and statements in effect across B.C. on Wednesday morning, as an Arctic air mass settled over the province.
Environment Canada warned temperatures in southern B.C. would be dropping, and that some areas could be as much as 20 degrees cooler than the seasonal norm.