Road closure doesn't stop Yukoner from getting in-laws to airport

The Alaska Highway in Whitehorse was closed most of Thursday, after a truck rolled over at the North Klondike Highway. Terrance McCallum found a detour.

The Alaska Highway in Whitehorse was closed for several hours on Thursday after a truck rollover

Quick-thinking Terrance McCallum just couldn't let his in-laws miss their flight home. (Submitted by Lisa Organ)

It was a day of waiting for many people in Whitehorse on Thursday — the Alaska Highway, the main artery through the territory, was closed for several hours after a tanker truck rolled over.

Dozens of vehicles — many of them campers and RVs — sat parked in a line from about 7 a.m. until the road partially re-opened just before 3 p.m.

A tanker truck carrying aviation fuel rolled over at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and North Klondike Highway, just after 7 a.m. on Thursday. The highway was closed until about 3 p.m. (RCMP)

Terrance McCallum, however, couldn't wait it out. His visiting in-laws were due to fly out of Whitehorse, and he wanted to get them to the airport.

The trouble was, they were still at his house, a half hour drive from the airport and on the wrong side of the closure. There was no road detour.

"At first they panicked — they didn't know what to do," McCallum said.

Solution? The territory's old highway — the Yukon River.

"I said, 'why don't we just put my boat in the water?'

"It took us probably about five minutes to get to the boat launch, and another five minutes to get the boat in the water, and away we went."

McCallum and his relatives launched the boat at the Takhini River bridge, then motored up the Yukon River into downtown Whitehorse. (Submitted by Lisa Organ)

They motored upriver for about 40 minutes to get into downtown Whitehorse, where McCallum's wife was waiting to drive the relatives to the airport.

"They made their flight," McCallum said. "It was quite the adventure."

McCallum said he saw another boater heading up river to get his wife to a hospital appointment on time.

Large pool on road

Photos taken at the scene on Thursday morning appear to show a large pool of fuel, spilled over the roadway and down the shoulder. It's not known how much spilled.

Several emergency vehicles were at the spot all day. By 3:30 p.m., though, traffic was moving again on the Alaska Highway and the North Klondike Highway. RCMP warned drivers that there may still be delays.

John Gibson of Port Aransas, TX, was hoping to make it to Dawson City by Thursday evening in his RV. He said in the morning that 17 other motor coaches were behind him, and they all had dinner plans together in Dawson. 

"It's a little bit of inconvenience, but we'll just be late getting in tonight," he said.

Traffic - mostly campers and RVs - was lined up for hours. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Corrections

  • A previous headline in this story stated that the highway was closed south of Whitehorse. In fact it was at the north end of Whitehorse.
    Jun 22, 2017 3:36 PM CT

With files from Leonard Linklater