►37 people were taken to hospitals across the province after a serious three vehicle accident that closed the Coquihalla Highway northbound for over 9 hours on Saturday. RCMP Sergeant Mike Pears says around 10 am the bus rear ended a tow truck that was pulled off to the side of the highway servicing a car which had struck a deer. Pears says traffic was not heavy at the time of the accident and says the crash was 100% preventable. He says "police are investigating as to why the bus driver would not have slowed down and pulled over into the left lane which is required by the slow Down and Move Over legislation". He adds the bus driver should have slowed down to 70 km/h. Pears says a person on the bus was ejected and thrown into a creek. The driver of the car and the driver of the tow truck were also seriously injured and airlifted to hospital. There were 30 passengers in the buss, many of which sustained minor injuries.
B.C. Ambulance confirms 12 ground and four air ambulance responded to the crash site. Some of the patients were taken to hospitals in Hope and Chilliwack.
The Interior Health Authority confirms 25 patients were taken to IH facilities, including 15 to Merritt, and five each to RIH in Kamloops and Kelowna General Hospital. A Code Orange was called in Merritt due to the sudden influx in patients. IH spokesperson Darshan Lindsay says as of Sunday morning two patients remain at KGH and the remainder of the patients have been discharged. Lindsay says the majority of the patients sustained minor injuries. She says a significant bus rollover on the Coquihalla last August resulted in the same three hospitals being involved. She says each site declared a Code Orange last Summer as they received a significant amount of patients. Lindsay says through that experience there were lessons learned which assisted in Saturdays response.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone told CFJC News, the accident happened on a fairly straight section of highway and says the tour bus operator would have had good visibility. Stone says the tow truck is believed to have had its flashing lights. He describes the incident as odd and says the company, Universal Coach Line based in Vancouver, will undergo a safety audit.
According to Drive BC the Coquihalla is now fully open. It was closed northbound for over 8 hours Saturday.
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