It began as a rear-end dual-vehicle crash, and ended in a chain reaction that involved a total of at least 24 vehicles and 50 people in a pileup on the Coquihalla Highway on Wednesday morning near Hope. The horrific series of crashes seriously injured five people and killed a motorist and their dog.
RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Halskov said the chain reaction began when a pickup truck collided into the rear of a stopped semi truck along the northbound lanes of Highway 5 in the S-curves. Road conditions were slippery and caught many drivers off-guard, resulting in a chain reaction collision involving passenger vehicles, semi trucks, tow trucks, an ambulance, an RCMP vehicle and a bus.
A South Okanagan man in his 40s and his dog, who were in the pickup truck in the initial collision, died at the scene of the crash. Five people were taken to hospital with significant injuries; only one remains in hospital with broken bones and is expected to recover. Dozens more sustained minor or non-life threatening injuries.
Halskov said the police officer responding to the initial crash was among the injured.
“As he was approaching the scene, was forced to take evasive action and, due to the severe road conditions, he, too collided with the concrete barrier,” Halskov said. The officer’s vehicle was hit from behind by a jack-knifed semi truck that was not able to stop, injuring the officer.
“[The officer] watched through his rear view-mirror as he was about to be hit,” Halskov said.
Police confirmed treacherous road and weather conditions contributed to the crash, but speed with respect to the conditions was also a contributing factor.
“Police would like to remind motorists to drive according to the road and weather conditions,” Halskov said. “In this collision, slower speeds may not have prevented collisions due to the highway being glare ice, but slower speeds may have reduced injury.”
Police extended thanks to the volunteers and agencies that responded to Wednesday morning’s pileup. Investigators have received a significant amount of dash cam footage, but at this time, no criminal charges are anticipated.
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