6 people rushed to hospital, 2 by air ambulance in fiery crash on B.C.'s Coquihalla highway

·2 min read
RCMP report serious injuries after a fiery multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt, on October 29, 2021 (Submitted by eyewitness - image credit)
RCMP report serious injuries after a fiery multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt, on October 29, 2021 (Submitted by eyewitness - image credit)

Six people have been rushed to hospital, including two in critical condition, after a fiery multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla Highway Friday morning.

Witnesses tell CBC news a semi-trailer heading north crossed both lanes of Highway 5 near Larson Hill, just before 11 a.m.

A pickup truck hit the cab of the semi. A small passenger car then hit the back of the pickup truck's flatdeck and caught fire, according to an eyewitness. At least one other vehicle added to the pileup, the witness said.

B.C. Emergency Health Services says two air ambulances were dispatched to the scene, along with five paramedic ground crews.

BCEHS says paramedics transported six patients from the scene. It says two people were airlifted to hospital in critical condition. Four others were taken to hospital with serious injuries by ground ambulance.

Fire crews and police are also attending.

Heavy snow had been falling on the highway throughout the morning with drivers describing conditions as slushy and sloppy.

Highway crew rescues trapped woman as fire spread

Tom Agar, the area manager responsible for the Coquihalla highway for B.C's Ministry of transport says maintenance crews were among the first to respond, finding a woman trapped in her car, as fire spread among the piled up vehicles.

"The semi had started on fire and we got her vehicle towed out of there as she was pinned inside the vehicle," he told CBC Radio West host Sarah Penton.

"Everything else was burned out except the [woman's] vehicle we pulled out. So I'm thankful our crews and staff were out here for that, else she probably wouldn't be with us today."

The Coquihalla Highway was closed in both directions near Merritt, B.C., as the emergency response and accident investigation continued.

Drive B.C says the southbound lane is now open and the rest of the highway is expected to be fully reopened later tonight. It says to expect major delays and that alternatives routes are available.

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