A B.C. father of three says he is lucky to be alive after his vehicle was struck by a semi on the Trans-Canada highway west of Sicamous, B.C., on July 15, which was caught on dashcam.
Chad Willox, 44, says he was travelling eastbound to Sicamous from the Lower Mainland when a westbound semi hauling a trailer loaded with grocery products crossed the double-solid line.
The driver failed to safely negotiate a turn on the highway.
The semi-tractor trailer unit flipped onto its side and skidded down the highway for another 50 metres before it finally came to rest after striking an eastbound semi and three other vehicles, including Willox’s pickup truck and trailer.
Dashcam video shows Willox attempt to swerve out of the way.
“I was basically sandwiched, both sides of my truck were smashed,” he said.
Willox says the trailer smashed through the back of his pickup truck on impact, clipping his ear.
“My ear was almost completely off,” he said. Willox was transported to Shuswap Lake General Hospital and doctors managed to stitch his ear back on, he said.
“Realizing how close that one was, I’m actually suffering from some PTSD, to be honest. I can’t even drive in a vehicle right now, and it’s kind of crazy.”
The driver of the westbound semi, a 32-year-old Calgary man, was taken to hospital with what police described as non-life-threatening injuries.
Three other people were also taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police charged the driver of the semi with crossing a double-solid line under the BC Motor Vehicle Act and say speed may have been a factor in the collision.
“This narrow two-lane section of the highway has a rock wall on the eastbound ditch and a steep drop behind the concrete barrier on the western ditch,” Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil said in a statement.
“It is extremely fortunate that this collision did not result in multiple fatalities considering the length the truck travelled before finally coming to a stop and the extent of the damage sustained to all the impacted vehicles.”
Willox, who has a Class 1 licence and has operated a commercial vehicle in the past, says the charges are too lenient.
“I think the driver needs to face serious financial penalties and potentially issued a short-term jail sentence to really drive home how serious it is, and I also think his company needs to face charges,” he said.
“He is so lucky no one died.”
Willox is also calling on the provincial government to swiftly implement the standardized Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program, which requires new Class 1 drivers to complete more than 100 hours of driver training, often at their own expense.
“My opinion is the government is not taking this seriously, at all, and they need to,” he said.
Current applicants for a Class 1 licence must pass a written and road test, plus air brake training. No additional training is required.
Dave Earle, president of the BC Trucking Association, says he expects legislation to enable the implementation of the MELT program will be passed during the current sitting of the legislature.
“I am absolutely convinced it will improve safety on our roads. Any time that you increase and create a higher standard of competence before anybody can be licensed, it’s going to help mitigate mistakes that happen on the roads, decision-making that happens on the road,” he said.
Earle says the Trans-Canada semi-truck incident is worrisome.
“Thankfully it is very rare, particularly when you consider how much of traffic happens on any given day, but it certainly is concerning.”