Kamloops man tells harrowing tale of multi-semi crash on Coquihalla; issues appeal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops man tells harrowing tale of multi-semi crash on Coquihalla; issues appeal

Major vehicle incident causes closure of Highway Five northbound.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

A Kamloops man, thankful to have survived what he calls yesterday's catastrophic collision on the Coquihalla Highway, is sending out an urgent appeal to other drivers.

"We hear about this living in Kamloops: Horrible things happen on that highway. People need to slow down. Even when road conditions are bad you can get safely where you want to go," Scott Rippon told iNFOnews.ca.

Rippon and his wife were travelling on the Coquihalla, returning from the Lower Mainland to help with his grandmother who is afflicted with dementia, when their 2010 Ford F150 was suddenly in the midst of a multi semi pileup.

"lt was the worst experience of my life."

They were travelling in the right-hand lane, following a semi when the multi-vehicle collision began at about 1:15 p.m. yesterday, Rippon says. 

"It was snowing heavily... everything was fine. Another semi passed on us in the left-hand lane going pretty fast."

The passing semi then clipped the other semi travelling in front of Rippon.

And then a third semi came upon the scene, jackknifed, and slammed into the wreckage of the first two semis, Rippon says.

"We didn't want to slide into the carnage," he says, and so the Kamloops man veered his truck into a snowbank.

Scott Rippon captures an image of part of a multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla Highway.
Scott Rippon captures an image of part of a multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla Highway.
Image Credit: Scott Rippon

But for Rippon, his wife, and their dog, it wasn't enough to avoid being involved in the pileup.

"Another (semi) truck came past us and hit the brakes and jackknifed... The trailer slid over and wiped the back of my truck out."

And then yet another semi came past Rippon and jackknifed.

Two semi drivers were trapped for a time in their vehicles, and one was able to walk away once freed while the other semi driver appeared to be more seriously injured, he says. 

Rippon and his wife were transported to hospital in Hope, and he says they are very sore today and fortunate their injuries aren't more serious.

"We're upset, happy to be alive though. We're lucky we didn't end up in that pileup. From the damage to all the other trucks, ours would have been a crushed can in that wreckage."

Rippon says he was travelling at about the speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour and says he believes the semi that sparked the pileup was travelling too fast.

"He just went roaring past us."

But while Rippon is pleading with motorists to ease off their gas pedals on the Coquihalla Highway, he noted there was at least one positive from the harrowing experience.

While the incident made his dog Artie "pretty shaken", he was uninjured.

"He had his first ride in a cop car," Rippon laughs, saying Artie spent time in an RCMP detachment while they were cared for in hospital.

The accident, at Zopkios, closed the Coquihalla Highway northbound for hours yesterday between Merritt and Hope.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Darren Rathwell or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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