iN VIDEO: Aftermath of deadly multi-vehicle crash that closed the Coquihalla | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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iN VIDEO: Aftermath of deadly multi-vehicle crash that closed the Coquihalla

A multi-vehicle accident on the Coquihalla caused the road's closure today, Feb. 10.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Mitchell Danilak
February 10, 2021 - 4:48 PM

The Coquihalla Highway near Hope remains closed following a multi-vehicle crash this morning that claimed a life and injured numerous other people.

The crash happened just before 10 a.m. today, Feb. 10, on the Highway 5 near Hope.

Paramedics transported two patients to hospital by air in critical condition and three patients by ground in serious but stable condition. Crews also cared for another 34 patients with non-life-threatening injuries at the scene, Emergency Health Services said.

RCMP confirmed one person died of their injuries.

Mitchell Danilak, a truck driver from Leduc, Alta., said he was driving in the slow lane and was headed down a steep, curvy hill when he saw a fellow truck driver waving his hands out the window at him as he drove by in the opposite direction.

Danilak began to slow down and was able to pull to a stop without crashing into the pileup of more than 20 vehicles in front of him, which included cars, a motor coach bus and a tractor-trailer jackknifed across a rock face, he said.

Then he said he saw a police cruiser come "flying" down the hill in the fast lane, crash into the guardrail and spin into the wreckage, followed by three other vehicles that did the same.

"It's just catastrophic," he said, speaking by phone from the scene on Wednesday.

"I've seen accidents and everything like that before, but nothing of this magnitude. The sounds are going to haunt to me for the next little while."

The 29-year-old described hearing glass shattering, metal crumpling and "smash, after smash, after smash."

"It's not how I wanted to start my morning."

Danilak said he was grateful that he was only carrying 36 tonnes of feed pellets, rather than the 45 tonnes he normally hauls, and that he didn't come barrelling down the hill.

He said the road was covered in hard-packed snow and was so icy that it was almost impossible to walk on.

The hill behind him on Wednesday afternoon was lit up by flashing lights, with police cruisers, tow trucks, fire rescue vehicles and even an ambulance in the ditch up against a rock wall, he added.

Emergency Health Services said multiple paramedic crews were dispatched to the scene, including 13 ground and three air ambulances, several supervisor units and multi-patient transit buses.

The Town of Hope has opened the doors to its Warming Centre and welcomed many of those uninjured while they wait for transportation home or elsewhere," RCMP said in a media release.

Drive B.C. reports Highway 5 north of Hope remains closed, with no estimated time of reopening.

Investigators will remain at the scene until vehicles can be towed and the highway is safe for travel after the winter storm that passed through the area.

B.C. RCMP Traffic Services will provide an update on the collision tomorrow, once all information has been received.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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