Killer highway

A stretch of Highway 97 between Oyama and Bailey Road has claimed another victim and, at least two people are questioning why.

A 64-year-old Lake Country man was killed Wednesday afternoon as a result of a head-on collision just south of Bailey Road.

Nine people have been killed on this stretch of road since 2009 - five over the past 14 months alone.

Chilliwack resident, Bruce Aylen, was in the Okanagan Wednesday when he witnessed the latest crash.

The vehicle he was in had just turned left onto the highway and was waiting to merge when the silver Subaru went past.

"It went into a right hand turn and didn't seem to complete the turn and went into oncoming traffic," says Aylen.

The vehicle collided head-on with a truck going north.

The driver of the Subaru was killed as a result of the collision. The driver of the truck has since been released from hospital while his passenger remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Aylen and his business partner managed to pull the driver of the truck to safety, however, the passenger was pinned and required assistance from emergency crews to be extracted.

He believes the crash could have been prevented.

"We were kind of perturbed because on the way home driving away from the accident scene we noticed on straight stretches there are concrete barriers separating traffic but on that downhill corner there is no barrier. It seems kind of odd," said Aylen.

"We stopped at our Kelowna office on our way home and we were informed a couple of people die on that corner every year."

Kelowna resident Reg Keilty is going even further.

Keilty, who says he drives between Kelowna and Vernon about once a week, says it's time the provincial government did something about that stretch of highway.

"I can't understand it. I don't understand how we can put a new stretch of highway in (Lake Country) to the tune of $80M and we have this stretch that continues to be very dangerous and very deadly," says Keilty.

"For the numbers I am coming up with, as to what it would cost to put a barricade in, it just doesn't make sense."

Keilty says he has been in touch with Kelowna-Lake Country MLA, Norm Letnick. His office is apparently going  to try and get information from highways as to why.

He says it's about a 10km portion of highway stretching north from the end of the new highway in Oyama.

After doing some research he estimates the cost at between $1.5 and $2M.

What are your thoughts? Send us a note (up to 250 words) to [email protected] please use your full name. We will print them in a follow up story and post them on our Letters Page.


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