MERRITT (NEWS 1130) – A 47-year-old man from Salmon Arm who stopped to help others in a multi-vehicle collision was killed on the Coquihalla Thursday.
Merritt RCMP say a small car collided with a northbound commercial vehicle on Highway 5 between Merritt and Hope, causing a chain reaction of collisions as other cars approached.
No one was hurt in the initial collision, but when those involved got out of their vehicles to exchange information, a driver and a passenger were seriously injured by approaching cars. They were transported to a local hospital by BC Air Ambulance.
A Salmon Arm man who had stopped to offer assistance was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials says several other passengers were treated on site and the highway was closed for several hours.
RCMP Corporal Chris Manseau says despite this fatality, he’d never ask drivers to ignore a collision scene.
“There are so many different factors,” he says. “It could be more dangerous going past it or it could be more dangerous not coming up to it. It’s really up to the driver and how comfortable you are with getting out to help other people.”
Manseau says investigators don’t want people to stop pulling over to help others, but drivers need to evaluate the scene.
“So if you can mitigate those factors by putting your hazard lights on, staying away from the scene, making sure that somebody who’s showing up to the scene can see your vehicle, at least, and your hazard lights from a distance away and give them enough time to slow down and approach the scene safely, then yes, get out and help your fellow drivers.”
Jason Koo was stopped in traffic about 500 metres from the collision after it happened. He said the weather and visibility was poor.
“It was low fog cloud and heavy rain when that probably happened,” he told NEWS 1130. “The rain was heavy, the cloud level was really low, so it was almost like driving in fog with heavy rain.”
Merritt RCMP and the Southeast District Traffic Services continue to investigate.
With files from Lauren Boothby.