August 05, 2016 - 3:31 PM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A multi-vehicle crash east of Hope on the Coquihalla Highway this afternoon has closed the southbound lanes.
Witnesses say dozens of vehicles were in the way of a transport truck that appeared to lose its brakes on the highway in the Box Canyon.
The number of injuries is unclear, although B.C. Emergency Health Services says numerous crews are responding to a multi-patient accident on the highway.
RCMP spokesperson Const. Melissa Wutke says the crash happened at about 2:30 p.m., Aug. 5, but she was unable to say how many vehicles or injuries were involved.
She says the priority is to assist any injured motorists and could not provide further details.
Wutke says because of the number of vehicles involved, they anticipate it will take some time for the route to reopen and drivers northbound may also be impacted.
Witness Norm Draeger says it appears that a semi-truck lost its brakes and barrelled down the hill in the southbound lanes and hit as many as two dozen vehicles. He says vehicles had been stopped on the highway because of construction.
Courtney Starheim was travelling in the opposite direction of the crash and says they could smell the brakes of the truck and those inside her vehicle commented on it.
"There was no way that semi would have been able to safely have stopped before the stopped traffic," she says.
There is no estimated time of reopening. Drivers are advised to take an alternate route via Highway 8 and Highway 97C. Use exit 286 in Merritt to access an alternate route Highway 5A.
For the the latest on the highway's status go to the Drive B.C. website.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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