December 30, 2015 - 4:40 PM
MERRITT - A California man has been charged after a single vehicle accident on Highway 97C resulted in several young children being ejected from his SUV earlier this week.
The driver, a 47-year-old man, was on vacation with his and one other family from California. Witnesses told police that four of the nine people in the Ford SUV were ejected during the crash.
Cpl. Dan Moskaluk says 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.
Four ground and one air ambulance was dispatched and six of the nine passengers were taken to hospital.
"The driver and his 14-year-old son received serious but non-life threatening injuries and were transported via road ambulance for an overnight stay at a medical facility in Kamloops," Moskaluk says. "One of the girls that were ejected from the vehicle, an 11-year-old, was airlifted initially to Kamloops then flown to Vancouver in serious but stable condition. The six other occupants were transported to Merritt via road ambulance, with three of them being moved to Kelowna for care. All are currently recovering from their injuries."
The crash happened a few kilometres East of Merritt on Highway 97C near the Hamilton Hill area on Monday, Dec. 28. Moskaluk says speed relative to conditions as well as driver inexperience contributed to the crash.
Witnesses say the vehicle spun around and went into the ditch back end first and investigators say that the four passengers that were ejected were not wearing seatbelts.
The driver has been charged with driving without due care and attention, permitting passengers under 16 to be improperly seated without seatbelts and carrying too many passengers for designated seating
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