The site where three men lost their lives due to an automobile collision in December

The site where three men lost their lives due to an automobile collision in December

Highway changes urged after inquest concludes

Improvements for Hwy 95 could be on the way after a Coroner's inquest last week

Improvements for Highway 95 could be on the way after a three-day Coroner’s inquest in Invermere shed light onto what led to a crash that killed three Lower Mainland residents near Spillimacheen in January 2011.

Winter road conditions and a surge of Highway 95 traffic caused by an avalanche-related closure of the Trans Canada Highway were among the factors considered in the Invermere courthouse from Monday, March 25th until Wednesday, March 27th, when the five-member jury reached their decision after hearing from nearly 20 witnesses.

The jury, comprised of people from the Columbia Valley, made four recommendations:

• That if the Trans Canada Highway is closed for any length of time and Highway 95 is used as alternate route, that Highway 95 should be deemed a Class A highway.

• That an acceleration and deceleration lane should be built at the Spillimacheen Rest Area.

• When Highway 95 is used as alternate route, that portable road information signs be placed both south of Golden and north of Radium Hot Springs.

• Considering the location of Highway 95, that the speed limit should be reduced to 90 kilometres per hour between Golden and Radium.

Of the four ideas, Columbia Valley RCMP Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac said he’s most in favour of the  reduction in the speed limit, given the frequency with which Highway 95 is used as the east-west link route when the Trans Canada Highway is closed between Golden and Lake Louise.

“I’ve seen more traffic being diverted in the past two years,” said Staff Sgt. Shehovac, who attended part of the inquest. “Even reducing the speed to 90 kilometres per hour is probably a good thing.”

Chul Sin Lee, Kwang Soo Cha, and James Chung Jik Koh were killed on January 19th, 2011, when the 1996 Oldsmobile sedan driven by Mr. Lee was struck by a logging truck then a Super B tractor trailer truck as the car was pulling out of the Spillimacheen Rest Area onto Highway 95.

Witness testimony revealed the car did not come to a full stop at the stop sign before entering the highway. Despite driver error being a factor in the crash, the recommendations will help authorities better deal with increased traffic spurred by major highway closures, said community coroner Shawn Jestley, who requested the inquest take place.

“As communities see this [traffic] increase every time this happens, some of the recommendations can help,” he told The Pioneer. “I’m happy with what the jury came up with.”

“The inquest was concerned with looking at design, engineering and maintenance of the highway, not with the cause of the accident,” he added.

The accident took place during an average winter day for the Columbia Valley, with cold, clear weather and compacted snow on the highway surface. Were the road designated as a Class A highway, it would mean a higher standard of maintenance would be required by provincial highways contractors, said Mr. Jestley.

Taking the stand on Tuesday, March 26th, commercial vehicle inspector Ken Squarebriggs described the scene he witnessed as he came upon the scene that day while en route to Golden.

The driver’s side of the Oldsmobile was folded in, with the steering column pushed onto the passenger side of the vehicle and many vehicle components destroyed

“It takes a lot of direct, straight impact to break a rotor like that,” he said. Mr. Squarebriggs also testified that a post-crash mechanical inspection showed some minor faults with the two commercial vehicles, but nothing that would have made them illegal to drive on Highway 95.

An inquest is a formal court process that allows for public presentation of evidence relating to a death, in which the goal is not to find blame, but to shed light on how to prevent future accidents.

 

 

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by: WeissPaarz.com
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read