A serious six-vehicle crash closed the Coquihalla Highway in both directions north of Hope, B.C. for several hours on Sunday night and sent dozens of people to hospital.
As of 8:25 a.m. Monday, the road has now reopened.
The crash, which occurred near the Othello exit around 8 p.m. Sunday, involved a Greyhound bus, another passenger bus, two semi-trailers and two vehicles.
Seven ambulances were initially dispatched — but eventually 36 units were involved, including two helicopters.
Fraser Valley Traffic Services confirms no on was killed in the crash.
Heavy snow in the area presented a challenge for first responders.
BC Emergency Health Services said 26 people were taken to hospital in conditions ranging from stable to critical. At least seven were said to be in serious condition.
Jordan Kawchuk takes the Greyhound route about once a month to visit his kids in Kelowna. He said he was just dozing off when all of a sudden the bus stopped and it was on a tilt.
“I didn’t think much of it because it was kind of stop and start on the icy mountain road to start with. But what happened next…” he said Monday morning.
Kawchuk said it “absolutely” felt like the bus was going to tip. People then started throwing their backpacks and carry ons out the window, he said.
“Everybody started standing up and yelling and screaming to get to the other side of the bus so we wouldn’t roll.
“The bus driver, I think over the intercom, said ‘brace yourselves.’ And then there was this long pause, which felt like forever and then ‘boom!’ we were hit by something massive, which I later found out was a semi truck.”
Kawchuk admits the entire ordeal is still a bit foggy, but said the emergency crews on scene were amazing. The passengers on the bus exited through a window and down a ladder.
He was he was quickly shuttled to an emergency reception centre in Hope, where volunteers were ready with blankets. After his vitals were checked and he was medically cleared, he was on another shuttle back to Vancouver.
Kawchuk arrived home at around 4 a.m. Monday. While he said he was jostled around a bit in the crash, he’s very grateful he wasn’t seriously injured.
“I definitely feel out of whack, like you would from any hard car crash — my neck and my back,” he said. “But I’m grateful I’m OK. I saw people go flying.”
Allan McIlhargey speaks for the BC emergency service, and says there were a couple of issues responding.
“It was a bit challenging with the weather conditions, roads were quite slippery, it was snowing, fairly heavily, and just the dynamics with the traffic flow in the area. Turned out there was two separate sites that we had to divide up into because of the roads being blocked from the vehicles involved.”
Teams responded from across the B.C. lower mainland, including from Boston Bar, Coquitlam and Vancouver. Advanced life support and critical care teams were sent in, as well as paramedic specialists.
More than 130 people were sent to a triage and warming centre in Hope, but by early Monday morning they had all been transported home or to their next destination and the centre had been closed.
Greyhound passenger Jane Green told Global News no one on her bus was seriously injured, but the other passenger bus landed in a ditch on the side of the road.
There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash.
— With files from The Canadian Press