Slow down. That’s the message from the RCMP’s South Okanagan Traffic Services division following a pair of serious-injury accidents Friday.
The first was at about 8 a.m. on Highway 3 east of Hedley. It involved three vehicles and left a 20-year-old Grand Forks man in hospital with what police described as life-threatening injuries. At press time he was still recovering.
The second was a mishap around 9 p.m. on Highway 3A near Olalla when a southbound SUV left the road and rolled down an embankment.
In that incident the female driver from Keremeos was initially taken to Penticton Regional Hospital, then Kelowna General and was eventually moved to hospital in Vancouver with severe head injuries.
Alcohol as well as slippery conditions is believed to have been a factor, according to Cpl. Bryce Petersen of RCMP Traffic Services.
“The roads were very icy because we’d had the freezing rain and freezing snow all day which is not a good thing, especially when you add the alcohol,” said Petersen. “She was alone in the vehicle and it’s just a good thing she was wearing a seatbelt.”
In the other accident, a westbound Pontiac sedan rounded a curve, slid on some ice and collided head on with an eastbound Honda minivan. Shortly afterwards a third vehicle struck the others which had come to rest in the middle of the road.
The male driver of the Pontiac from Grand Forks was the most seriously hurt and was air evacuated by helicopter to Kelowna General Hospital.
The two adults in the Honda from Hedley received moderate injuries and were taken by ambulance to Penticton hospital. Both occupants of the third vehicle from Keremeos were not hurt.
Although charges are not anticipated due to the sudden change in driving conditions, Petersen warned motorists — especially at this time of year — to always be prepared.
“How a person drives is usually the No. 1 indicator as to why a crash takes place,” he said. “Is it the ice that’s at fault? Or is it the driver behaviour or diving pattern? Based on the fact that it’s winter time, you should anticipate a problem around every curve.”