December 21, 2014 - 1:32 PM
KELOWNA - The crash between a semi and a SUV on Highway 97 north of the Kelowna Airport Sunday afternoon claimed the life of the driver of the SUV.
The highway was closed for three hours after the head-on crash around 2 p.m. 4 kilometres north of Airport Way, according to RCMP, causing a major traffic headache for Christmas shoppers.
“Initial reports indicate a white SUV in the southbound lanes crossed into the northbound lanes colliding with a semi tractor trailer,” Sgt. Brad Swecra said in a media release. “A RCMP traffic analyst conducting an investigation.”
Traffic heading north on the highway was detoured to Glenmore Road via Sexsmith Road, while southbound traffic was detoured to Glenmore Road in Winfield, according to Drive B.C.
Commenters at Infonews.ca say traffic control was handled badly by police.
"What is so pathetic is how the police failed to help traffic more effectively on the detour. No one was policing the intersection in Winfield so hundreds and hundreds of cars were backed up because of a traffic light that only allowed minimal traffic to turn left onto the highway heading north," says Esther Baart. "Such poor policing. Surprised there were no accidents on the detour on one of the busiest days of travelling before Christmas."
The highway reopened at about 5 p.m. but traffic was so congested it hours to clear the backlog, both on Highway 97 and Glenmore Road.
There are unconfirmed reports the woman behind the wheel of the SUV died in the crash. The RCMP haven't immediately returned phone calls.
Jessica Taylor, who was stuck in traffic before turning around in Lake Country and taking Glenmore, said she saw lots of emergency vehicles go by on their way to the crash.
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- This story was updated at 2:01 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20. 2014 to add an estimated time of the highway opening.
- This story was updated at 2:39 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 to add comments from the RCMP and to add a photo.
- This story was updated at 4:05 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 to change estimated time of opening to 5 p.m.
- This story ws updated at 5:05 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 to say the highway had reopened.
- This story was updated at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2014 to add more details about the crash.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014