Fatal Coquihalla Highway crash was rear-ender between commercial trucks, RCMP say

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A fire is seen after a crash on the Coquihalla Highway, south of Merritt, B.C., early Monday. (Submitted/Name Withheld - image credit)
A fire is seen after a crash on the Coquihalla Highway, south of Merritt, B.C., early Monday. (Submitted/Name Withheld - image credit)

RCMP say a deadly crash that shut down the Coquihalla Highway for several hours Monday was a rear-ender between two commercial semi trucks.

A statement Tuesday said investigators found one commercial semi ran into the back of another, "slower-moving" truck in the southbound lanes near Merritt, B.C., just after 6 a.m. PT.

The impact led to a serious fire, which "consumed" the second truck and spread into the grassy median, police said.

They said the driver of the slower truck, a man from Edmonton, was unhurt.

The driver in the second semi was "trapped" and died as a result the collision, police said. A co-driver in the truck managed to get himself out of the cab, but was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Both men in the second truck were from Winnipeg, police said

RCMP seek witness who stopped at scene

The Coquihalla Highway was fully closed in both directions for roughly two hours as a result of the fire.

Northbound lanes on the highway partially opened later in the morning, but southbound lanes stayed shut until afternoon as police investigated and removed debris.

Crews from the Merritt Fire Department and the B.C. Wildfire Service were on scene to stop the flames from spreading.

The RCMP's B.C. Highway Patrol unit is leading the investigation, with help from Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement officers, collision reconstructionists and the B.C. Coroners Service.

"The cause of the crash remains under investigation and nothing has been ruled out," the RCMP statement read.

"Investigators would like to speak with the person who stopped at the scene, identified themselves as a witness, but did not provide their name or contact information," RCMP said.

Anyone with information regarding this collision, including any dashboard camera video, is asked to contact B.C. Highway Patrol Merritt at 250-378-4262 and cite file 2022-4023.