RCMP and the BC Coroners Service are now investigating the circumstances surrounding a collision, between two commercial vehicles, along Highway 97C that claimed a life Wednesday evening near Merritt. BC.
On June 16, 2021 a short time after 9 p.m., emergency crews responded to a call for assistance from an off-duty RCMP officer who happened upon a collision between two semi-tractor trailer units in the westbound lanes of Highway 97C, near the Loon Lake exit.
Preliminary findings at the crash scene suggests that a B-Train semi-tractor trailer unit, fully loaded with lumber, had been parked stationary and unoccupied, while awaiting a tow truck after becoming disabled when it was struck from behind, said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesperson for the BC RCMP in the Southeast District. Tragically, the operator of the second commercial vehicle was pronounced deceased at the scene. Emergency crews were unable to extract that operator before the commercial vehicle became fully engulfed in flames.
The flames spread to the first commercial vehicle and threatened nearby vegetation. As the blaze was outside the fire protection zone, the fire was closely monitored by RCMP officers who secured the scene overnight.
Merritt RCMP maintains conduct of the ongoing investigation into the fatal crash, with the added assistance of BC Highway Patrol.
The BC Coroners Service was notified and has launched a concurrent fact-finding investigation into the circumstances surrounding the driver’s death. Due to the privacy of the deceased, under the Coroners Act, his name will not be released.
The westbound lanes of Highway 97C remain closed this morning, as both commercial vehicles continue to smolder. Crews will finish their scene examination and remove the wreckage once the area is deemed safe. Motorist are encouraged to monitor Drive BC for any updates on the freeway closure.
If you witnessed this crash and have not yet spoken to police, or you have dash camera footage of the collision, you are asked to call the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262.