Police are searching for a suspect who fled a fatal crash that closed the Hope-Princeton highway for several hours last night.

The Upper Fraser Valley Regional RCMP detachment says the two vehicle collision happened 10 kilometres east of Hope near the Hope Slide lookout at around 3 p.m. PT Monday.

Police say the female passenger in her 30s died as a result of the crash.

Witnesses say they saw a SUV speeding and passing other vehicles then saw it collide with a highway maintenance truck.

The male driver of the SUV and his female passenger were thrown from their vehicle, witnesses said. Police have now confirmed this was the passenger that died.

The Ministry of Forestry says a BC Wildfire Service crew returning from a deployment were some of the first responders on the scene. They were able to deliver first aid and control traffic.

Suspected driver flees scene in stolen truck

One witness said that when the other motorists stopped to help, a man — who may have been the driver of the SUV — said to him, "you better call 911" and then commandeered a nearby white Ford F350 pick-up truck belonging to the fire crew and took off.

A burned out, mangled SUV — which police identified as a Equinox — was left just off the road.

Hope crash

The fatal crash closed Highway 3 for nine hours on Monday. (Ozia Tube)

WorkSafe BC says they were also on scene, saying a worker was injured in the collision but was treated and released from hospital.

Police have confirmed an individual suspected to be the driver of the vehicle left the scene before police arrived.

The man was described as wearing a white and red motorcycle-style jacket and tan shorts.

He was average height and had short, dark hair.

Police have now recovered the stolen truck but are still seeking the suspect.

They believe the suspect travelled to Hope after the collision and advise the public not approach him and call 911 if they see him.

Stranded for hours

A couple of hundred vehicles including many semis and their occupants were left stranded in an area — many for several hours — with no cell service.

Highway 3 reopened to single lane traffic near Sunshine Valley shortly after midnight, more than nine hours after the mishap.

By 5 a.m. PT, both lanes had opened.

Joanne Taylor, the manager of the Sunshine Valley RV Resort, was supposed to close her business at 5 p.m. PT but with all the stranded travellers, she kept it open until late into the night.

"With the traffic coming in, we just stayed open ... that's what you do," she said.

Taylor — who has 10 cabins on the property — said they were quickly snapped up by weary travellers as the closure progressed. But many opened their shelters to other travellers who were looking for a place to stay as well.

"It'll close once in a while in the winter but this is the longest its been closed for a traffic accident," she said.

With files from Belle Puri and Manjula Dufresne

Joanna Taylor

"That's what you do," says Joanne Taylor, manager of the Sunshine Valley RV Resort, about keeping her business open for stranded travellers. (Belle Puri/CBC)