1st 'significant' accident on Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway

There was a vehicle collision on the the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway this week — the first significant accident on the road since it opened in November, RCMP say.

Tuktoyaktuk mayor says he narrowly avoided injury

Pictured is the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway. RCMP Cpl. Robert Frizzell said the crash happened near Hans Creek, on a flat part of the highway that is unprotected from blowing snow. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

There was a vehicle collision on the the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway this week — the first "significant" accident to happen on the road since it opened in November. 

The crash involved Tuktoyaktuk's Mayor Merven Gruben.

Gruben posted about the incident on Facebook and warned residents to be cautious on the road.

"I'm not a rookie winter driver but, with this new highway we are all rookies," wrote Gruben. He was driving to Tuktoyaktuk on Monday when he came across a van stuck on the road.

The driver didn't have his hazard lights on and there was very poor visibility, he said. 

Gruben skidded to a stop, got out of his vehicle and chatted with the other driver. However, he then realized his SUV was stuck, too.

He was about to grab a shovel out of the back of his car when "out of nowhere a pickup going pretty fast smashed into the back of my SUV."
Merven Gruben is pictured standing on the new Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway. He is warning people to be careful, after a truck crashed into his vehicle. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"Another few seconds [and] I would have been mashed in between the two vehicles."  

RCMP Cpl. Robert Frizzell said the crash happened near Hans Creek — an area of the highway that has less trees and is unprotected from blowing snow. 

"It's known as more the windier, or lower visibility kind of spots," he said. "This is the first ... significant or larger collision reported to police on that highway since its opening."

He said the driver had minor injuries, but no one was badly hurt in the incident. Frizzell said there have been no charges laid at this time. 

Gruben wrote that "there also needs to be better maintenance on the south end of the highway which will be brought up before DOT [Department of Transportation]."

Greg Hanna, a spokesperson from the territorial government's Department of Infrastructure, said in an email that "drivers need to be particularly cautious" in snowy and blizzard conditions such as the ones on February 5. 

"Before leaving, check weather and highway conditions," he wrote. "Once on the road, drivers should never exceed posted speed limits, adjust speed according to conditions, slow down around turns and when passing vehicles, ensure all vehicle lights are functioning, turned on and cleared of snow and ice, and fasten your seatbelts."