A California man is facing multiple charges after a single vehicle collision on Highway 97C east of Merritt, B.C., that injured six of the SUV's nine passengers on Dec. 28. 

Police in Merritt say the 47-year-old man driving the SUV was accompanied by his and another family, all of them in B.C. on holiday, when the vehicle spun and hit a ditch, immediately ejecting four unbuckled occupants. 

"The impact was severe enough to eject two of the unbelted children out of the vehicle and across the four lane highway into the opposing snow-covered ditch," said Cpl. Dan Moskaluk in a written statement. 

No other vehicles were involved in the crash. 

Crash on Highway 97C leaves 7 people seriously injured

Five ground ambulances were dispatched to the scene, about eight kilometres east of Merritt, as well as one air ambulance. (Gord Buck)

Police say the driver has been charged with:

  • Driving without due care and attention
  • Permitting passengers under 16 to be improperly seated without seatbelts
  • Carrying too many passengers for designated seating 

"Speed relative to winter road conditions and driver inexperience were contributing factors as to why the full-size black Ford SUV left the road into the right side ditch," said Moskaluk. 

RCMP are reminding drivers that road conditions vary throughout the province, and "posted speed limits are for optimal road and weather conditions."

All of the vehicle's occupants are recovering from their injuries, say police.