Coquihalla Highway reopens but police investigation still 'active' and 'ongoing'

RCMP reopen Coq

UPDATE 7:00 p.m.

The Coquihalla Highway has reopened in both directions.

“The incident that caused police to require the highway closure has come to a conclusion and we thank all motorists for their patience,” says Sergeant Chris Manseau media relations officer for the BC RCMP.

He notes that there is still an active and ongoing police investigation that prompted the Mounties to close the major route between the BC Interior and the Lower Mainland. The public should expect a marked increase in police vehicles in the area.

The Merritt RCMP is asking any witnesses or anyone who was near the area of Juliet Bridge, just south of Merritt near the Coquihalla summit between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Nov. 23 to call them at 250-378-4262. They are also looking for any dashcam footage from that time.

There will be no further updates this evening, but the RCMP say they are committed to releasing a more fulsome update on Thursday.

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.

The police incident on the Coquihalla Highway appears to involve a stolen pickup truck.

Tik Tok user Kurtis Brown posted a video Wednesday of a black pickup truck in the Coldwater River near the Juliet Bridge on the Coquihalla Highway. Brown says an "armed suspect" left the stolen truck in the river and fled from the area. He later removed the video.

Another Castanet reader reported a vehicle had been stolen at gunpoint.

In an earlier press release, Sgt. Chris Manseau of the RCMP said a large number of police were heading to the Juliet Bridge area, suggesting the suspect or suspects remain at large.

RCMP officers carrying long guns have been stopping motorists in the area. The highway remains closed in both directions from Merritt to Hope. There is no estimated time of reopening.

UPDATE: 3:50 p.m.

The Coquihalla Highway is expected to be closed for "the next few hours," according to a brief press release issued by the RCMP Wednesday.

Sgt. Chris Manseau of the RCMP calls the situation "an active an unfolding police incident."

"No public or commercial vehicle are being allowed passage at this time," he said. "The public should anticipate delays and plan alternative routes for the next few hours while this incident unfolds."

Sgt. Manseau says "a large number of policing resources from surrounding areas" are being deployed to the Juliet Bridge area of the Coquihalla, about 50 kilometres south of Merritt. RCMP Emergency Response Team vehicles have been seen leaving West Kelowna, presumably heading towards the incident.

"Any public in the area are asked to avoid that area, and refrain from posting any police actions online," Sgt. Manseau said.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m.

At least nine RCMP Emergency Response Team vehicles have recently left West Kelowna, headed towards the Coquihalla Highway, according to a Castanet reader.

A police incident has closed the Coquihalla Highway in both directions Wednesday afternoon, between Merritt and Hope. Few details have been released, but Castanet has received an unconfirmed report the incident involves one or more armed suspects.

According to the reader, the ERT vehicles have been leaving West Kelowna over the past hour and a half, presumably heading to the incident.

Castanet has reached out to the RCMP about the incident, but no information has been released at this time.

ORIGINAL: 2:45 p.m.

A “police incident” has completely closed the Coquihalla Highway Wednesday.

Few details have been released, but DriveBC reports the closure extends all the way from Hope to Merritt, in both directions.

While the Coquihalla regularly closes during the winter months due to inclement weather and vehicle crashes, Wednesday's closure is for a “police incident.”

Castanet has received an unconfirmed report that the incident may involve one or more armed suspects in the area, but there are no details on the matter at this time. One Castanet reader reported that a TransMountain pipeline work crew near the Coquihalla has been evacuated, but this has also not been confirmed.

Castanet will update this story as more information becomes available.

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