29 injured in multi-vehicle crash on Coquihalla Highway
Greyhound bus among 6 vehicles in crash 25 km north of Hope, B.C., that also sends 136 to warming centre
More than two dozen people were taken to hospital after a crash involving two buses, two semi-trailers and two vehicles on the Coquihalla Highway north of Hope, B.C., on Sunday night.
Responders worked for hours to free people trapped in vehicles.
The highway was closed in both directions between Hope and Merritt after the crash about 8 p.m. PT Sunday. Northbound lanes were reopened shortly before 2 a.m. Monday.
B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) confirmed the vehicles involved in the accident. It said it sent 22 ground and air ambulances to the scene.
Twenty-nine patients were taken to hospital with injuries ranging from stable to critical. Another 136 people who weren't injured were taken to a warming centre in Hope.
BCEHS said the collision occurred about 25 kilometres north of Hope. DriveBC put the location near Exit 183 or Othello Road.
Earlier in the day, B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation had warned drivers to be cautious on the stretch of Highway 5 between Hope and Merritt due to limited visibility, although it hasn't been determined if visibility issues played a role in the crash.
Graham Zillwood lives on Othello Road about 100 metres from the location of the crash. He said he was watching television when heard a loud crunching noise.
"It sounded like a vehicle hit a tree, so I quickly got up and I grabbed my phone," he said. "I knew someone was probably off the highway."
As Zillwood dialled 911, he said, he saw a transport truck come down the roadway, fail to stop and then hit a vehicle, which was knocked down the embankment.
He said the transport truck then rolled down the embankment and landed on top of the vehicle.
"Then another semi came and went down the embankment," he said in describing the multi-vehicle pile-up.
Greyhound Canada confirmed one of the buses belongs to the company. Its 5105 bus was en route from Kelowna to Vancouver.
The company said 50 passengers were aboard, plus the driver. Greyhound said only one person suffered minor injuries and that the passengers were put aboard another bus.
Greyhound also said it did not know the cause of the accident, but that it would be conducting its own investigation.
On Twitter, Kelsey Julia said her father was on one of the buses but was uninjured, while others did suffer injuries.
My dad was on that greyhound going back home to Hope from Kelowna, stated he’s okay, thank god! He’s being transferred to the Abbotsford hospital to get some X-rays, praying everyone else is okay 🙏🏼🙏🏼—@KelseyJulia
DriveBC said motorists can use Highway 1 from Hope or Highway 3 or 5A as alternate routes. Alternate routes from Merritt are Highways 8 and 1.
The agency said it would take until at least noon on Monday for southbound lanes on Highway 5 to reopen.
Zillwood said he often sees accidents from his window. He has lived in his house on Othello Road for 14 years, and said he has called 911 about a major accident each winter for all but one of those years.
Travel advisory for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCHwy5?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCHwy5</a> between <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HopeBC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HopeBC</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Merritt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Merritt</a> due to limited visibility. <a href="https://twitter.com/VSAMaintenance?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VSAMaintenance</a> crews are out plowing and sanding. Please drive with caution, and check <a href="https://twitter.com/DriveBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DriveBC</a> before you head out. <a href="https://t.co/j0Ggr5gsbl">pic.twitter.com/j0Ggr5gsbl</a>—@TranBC_TN
"It's just horrible," he said. "I watch it. Thank God I can phone it in, but geez, it's horrible."