Extremely icy roads are being blamed for causing an 11-car pile up and three other collisions in a 20-minute time period.
Following two separate single vehicle rollovers on Highway 3 just west of Fernie shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday, a truck went off the road and into the ditch.
Five cars then slowed down and stopped on the highway and a bus following behind came round a corner and skidded on the ice crashing into the back of the last car. This caused a “domino effect” pushing each of the cars into the back of the one in front. Five cars following the bus then collided into each other.
“In total 11 cars, including the bus, smashed into each other,” said Sgt. Dave Dubnyk from the Elk Valley RCMP. “Luckily nobody was seriously hurt as they were going really slow.”
The RCMP, the Southeast District Traffic Services Unit, B.C. Ambulance and Fernie Fire Rescue all attended the scene.
Dubnyk said a passenger was thrown from the car in the first incident, but also was not seriously hurt.
He said the Elk Valley Hospital had 20 patients to deal with at the same time.
“Although there were no serious injuries, 20 people were taken to the hospital for a check up. I think the hospital staff called it “Code Orange” or something.
“I think the cause was a combination of rubber necking and really icy roads. The temperature dropped about six degrees really fast and the rain instantly froze, making the roads lethal.”
Officers from the Elk Valley RCMP Detachment and the Southeast District Traffic Services Unit were on scene within minutes. The investigation revealed that several vehicles had come around the slight corner and had to brake hard on a very slippery highway, causing a domino effect. The highway was shut down from both directions until flagging crews could attend to manage the traffic flow.
“The traffic was stuck from about 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.” said Dubnyk. “It stretched right back to the West Fernie bridge, nearly three kilometres.”At this point, charges are not being considered as slippery roads appear to have been the main causal factor for these accidents,” said Dubnyk.
“A fourth vehicle rollover near the Elko tunnel was also reported around the same time of the multi vehicle collision.
“Police are urging the public to drive cautiously during these winter months when the road conditions are icy and slippery.”