Merritt – The southbound lanes of the Coquihalla Highway, between Merritt and Hope, re-opened earlier Thursday morning following a deadly crash late Wednesday afternoon that prompted the overnight closure south of the City of Merritt.
On February 17, 2021 at approximately 4 p.m., Merritt RCMP responded alongside emergency medical crews to a report of a collision involving two commercial vehicles on Highway 5, the Coquihalla Highway, approximately 4 km’s south of Merritt BC. Witnesses at the scene told police that both semi-tractor units were travelling in the southbound lanes of Highway 5, climbing a hill, when the collision unfolded.
It is believed that one of those commercial vehicles was travelling at relatively slow speeds in the right hand lane. The second commercial vehicle collided with the rear of the first commercial vehicle as its driver attempted to overtake it on the left.
The damage caused to the passenger compartment of the cab associated to the overtaking commercial vehicle was described by investigators as catastrophic, states Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesman for the BC RCMP in the Southeast District.
Tragically a co-driver, believed to be in the tractors sleeper, was ejected from the cabin and was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The drivers of each of the semi-tractor trailer units worked together to attempt to provide life-saving measures to the 38-year-old victim at the scene. Both drivers were transported by BC Emergency Health Services to hospital for precautionary reasons.
The BC Coroners Service was notified, attended the crash scene and has launched a concurrent fact finding investigation into the circumstances surrounding the man’s unexpected death. Due to the privacy of the deceased, under the Coroners Act, his name will not be released.
Merritt RCMP maintains conduct of the ongoing investigation into the crash, with the assistance of BC RCMP Traffic Services, and the Integrated Collision Analyst and Reconstructionist Services (ICARS) who attended and examined the scene.
If you witnessed this crash and have not yet spoken to police, or you have dash camera footage of the collision, you are asked to call the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262.