Crash sends 4 to hospital

Ragnar Haagen

1:50 p.m. update: One of the crash victims, from the collision that closed Hwy. 97 near Vernon this morning, has been released from hospital.

The 54-year-old driver of the truck, his 51-year-old wife and their 14-year-old daughter are all from Calgary. The adults remain in hospital, the daughter has been released. All are expected to recover.

The driver of the red SUV, a 21-year-old man from Vernon, remains in hospital with serious injuries.

RCMP say the highway is clear.

10:00 A.M. UPDATE 

Lack of sleep may be to blame for a early morning head-on collision that sent four to hospital.

At 6:30 a.m. a red SUV headed northbound crossed the centre line, hit the nose of the cement median and crossed into oncoming traffic striking a southbound truck and trailer.

The accident occurred on Hwy. 97 at Vista Road.

At this point police do not know what caused the lone occupant and driver of the red SUV to lose control but North Okanagan Traffic Services Corporal Mark Taylor says lack of sleep is a common culprit in early morning crashes.

“In my experience you often see vehicles in the morning with drivers who aren't quite rested enough, or are traveling a long distance and the sleep and tiredness gets the best of them and they tend to doze off and not pay attention,” says Taylor. “It is clear something caused the driver to cross the center line but at this point anything is possible. There is no indication of alcohol being involved, but it is early morning, the sun is in people's eyes and it is typical people do fall asleep this time in the morning when they are driving.”

All four occupants of both vehicles were taken to hospital. All were conscious at the time with non-life threatening injuries.

A family of three including mom, dad and their 14-year-old daughter were in the truck and trailer with Alberta plates. The red SUV is registered in Vernon.

The damage to the SUV is significant and police say the driver is lucky to be alive.

“There is a significant amount of damage here. Both vehicles were traveling at a highway speed and that is why we have our traffic analyst here to conduct their investigation so we can get a really accurate picture of what everyone was doing prior to the collision and what caused the collision,” explains Taylor.

Traffic is moving through the area but lane closures are still in effect while police investigate.  

7:53 a.m. update:

Traffic is moving around a serious accident on Hwy. 97 near Vernon. The southbound lanes are still closed but crews are rerouting drivers to the northbound lanes.

RCMP say four people were taken to hospital, all of them were conscious at the time.

7:27 a.m.: Hwy. 97, near Vernon, was closed for a while on Thursday morning while emergency crews cleared an accident.

Witnesses say there was an overturned truck in the ditch with a trailer attached to it and another vehicle smashed in the middle of the highway.

JS says, "They rushed the people to the hospital. Looks like the car was heading north bound and swerved into the middle lane hitting the meridian and in turn hitting the truck and camper head on."

The accident happened near Vista Road between Vernon and Lake Country.

More details to follow.

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