Safety of Coq questioned

Alanna Kelly

The Ministry of Transportation says revisions to highway maintenance on the Coquihalla Highway won't be considered until after the outcome of an RCMP investigation into Sunday night's serious crash.

A travel advisory was issued Sunday morning for the Coquihalla Highway, hours before the horrific, multiple-vehicle crash.

Up to 20 centimetres of snow was forecast to hit the the highway Sunday between Hope and Merritt, the very spot multiple tractor-trailers, buses and other vehicles crashed into each other.

Janelle Erwin, deputy regional director of the Ministry of Transportation, says the ministry is confident the highway contractor was on the job and making the Coquihalla as safe as possible when the crash occurred just north of Hope, sending 29 people to hospital.

Over 130 people were sent to warming centres in Hope while the highway was closed.

Erwin says the ministry has safety and maintenance protocols in place but wants to understand the RCMP's perspective of the crash before moving forward.

A news release Monday from Fraser Valley Traffic Services urged drivers to reduce speed and said winter driving conditions appeared to be a major factor in the collision involving two Greyhound buses, several transport trucks and smaller vehicles.

Andy Warren, a professional transport truck driver, was just ahead of the collision, and said people were driving too fast for the conditions. 

“I was ahead of the collision, I chained up twice, I was the third truck at the front to spin out,” he said. “If it is winter conditions and you feel any loss of traction under your vehicle, slow right down."

Warren said a major contributing factor is the road maintenance companies not gritting the road when they should.

“When they use grit they lose money,” he said.

RCMP Const. Mike Halskov said it has been a challenging year all over the province due to weather conditions.

- with files from Canadian Press. 

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