Beware of slippery road conditions, say RCMP, following rash of accidents in Southern Interior

A photo of a police cruiser along the Coquihalla Highway. RCMP are asking motorists to be cautious along mountain passes, as road conditions can quickly change. Merritt RCMP

Police throughout B.C.’s Southern Interior are reminding motorists of slippery conditions on local highways.

An RCMP spokesperson said from Kelowna to Penticton, and from Merritt to Salmon Arm, officers were busy responding to dozens of collisions all weekend and into the beginning of the week.

In Salmon Arm, police say emergency crews attended three collisions on Tuesday morning, including one that sent three to hospital.

Police say that crash happened on Highway 97B, near the Auto Road intersection just after 9 a.m., and involved a southbound Toyota Camry that lost control and crossed into northbound traffic, where it was struck on the passenger side by a northbound SUV.

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The driver and sole occupant of the Toyota suffered serious injuries and, after being transported to Salmon Arm’s airport, was airlifted to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.

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The driver and passenger in the SUV suffered minor injuries and were transported to Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Regarding the other two Salmon Arm accidents, a single vehicle lost control on an icy stretch along the Trans-Canada Highway at Kault Hill and hit the ditch. The driver was not injured.

The other involved a single vehicle losing control along the 1200 block of Highway 97B and crossing the centre line. The vehicle hit a signpost before coming to a stop in the ditch. The driver wasn’t injured.

Click to play video: 'All but one patient out of hospital after deadly multi-vehicle crash on Coquihalla Highway'
All but one patient out of hospital after deadly multi-vehicle crash on Coquihalla Highway

In Merritt, RCMP issued a public warning about winter road conditions.

“Winter isn’t over yet,” said Sgt. Josh Roda, adding that police are encouraging the public not only to be cognizant and prepared for winter road conditions, but also to “drive a speed that is appropriate for those conditions.”

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Police say motorists travelling over mountain passes, such as the Coquihalla Highway or Okanagan Connector, can experience rapidly changing road and weather conditions.

“Those conditions can deteriorate in just a matter of moments,” said Roda. “This past week has been no exception, where police have been kept busy responding to a number of vehicle collisions and traffic incidents.”

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Semi-trailers crash into vehicles in deadly Texas highway pileup

In related traffic news, no injuries were reported following a three-vehicle collision at the intersection of highways 33 and 97 in Kelowna on Tuesday night.

Kelowna RCMP said the collision happened just before 8 p.m. and involved a northbound Toyota Prius on Highway 97 allegedly running a red light.

A westbound Chevrolet Cavalier struck the Toyota, with the Prius then rolling in front of a semi-truck that was stopped at the light.

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Police say the 33-year-old woman driving the Prius was ticketed for failing to stop at a red light.

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