HOPE (NEWS 1130) – Mounties say wintry conditions on the Coquihalla sparked a “cascading, chain reaction” Wednesday, leading to a multi-vehicle crash that left one person dead and dozens hurt.
In an update Thursday, the RCMP says the chain of events started with a report of a semi truck that was stopped in the northbound lanes of the Coquihalla just north of Hope.
The truck was apparently stopped in the S-curves. By the time police had arrived on scene, the RCMP says an officer saw that a pick-up truck had crashed into the back of the semi.
“The road conditions in the area of the collision were treacherous and caught many unaware,” Mounties say in a release. The result saw at least two dozen vehicles, including a bus, involved in the crash.
The officer who was responding to the initial report was hurt when his vehicle was hit by a jack-knifed semi that wasn’t able to stop due to road conditions.
The police officer “watched through his rear-view mirror as he was about to be hit,” the RCMP notes. The Fraser Valley Traffic Services member crashed into the concrete barrier.
While severe road and weather conditions played a big role in this crash, police say “speed relative to conditions” also was a factor.
People are being reminded to slow down and drive to weather conditions, with police adding that while slower speeds may not have prevented the crash “due to the highway being glare ice,” it may have impacted how seriously people were hurt.
It’s estimated 50 people were involved in Wednesday’s crash. A South Okanagan man in his 40s who was driving a pick-up truck was killed along with his dog.
Five people suffered “significant injuries” and were taken to the hospital. Only one person remains in hospital with broken bones. They are expected to recover from their injuries.
Other injuries because of the crash range from minor to non-life threatening. Some people did not need medical intervention, the RCMP says.