Sudden return of winter catches region off-guard

Emergency personnel respond to a six-vehicle accident at Crystal Waters Road and Highway 97 in Oyama Thursday morning. - vernon fire department photo
Emergency personnel respond to a six-vehicle accident at Crystal Waters Road and Highway 97 in Oyama Thursday morning.
— image credit: vernon fire department photo

A blast of winter created significant challenges for North Okanagan motorists Thursday.

Numerous accidents were reported as snow blanketed most of the region throughout the day.

“Conditions were extremely slippery” said Cst. Kris Clark, RCMP spokesperson.

The most dramatic situation occurred just after 7 a.m. when six vehicles collided at Crystal Waters Road and Highway 97, just north of Oyama.

Several people were taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

“Speed, weather and road conditions are all considered to be major factors in this collision,” said Clark.

The investigation is ongoing but Clark says Motor Vehicle Act charges are likely forthcoming against at least one driver.

The accident forced the closure of Highway 97 at one point, and then one lane was opened before all four lanes were fully reopened by 10:30 a.m.

“The Lake Country RCMP would like to remind people that winter driving is in effect,” said Clark.

“Please slow down for the conditions and ensure that you have appropriate tires for the weather.”

Elsewhere in the North Okanagan, road conditions were being blamed for a myriad of Thursday morning accidents.

One woman was taken to hospital suffering from injuries in a rollover accident, and from when her airbag deployed, after her Chevy Cavalier left Highway 97A near Larkin Cross road in Spallumcheen.

The northbound vehicle slid off the road right, struck two culverts and rolled down the embankment, landing on its wheels.

There were minor injuries after three vehicles collided near Bailey Road on Highway 97, south of Vernon, and a driver was suffering from whiplash after a vehicle lost control and went off Dure Meadow Road east of Lumby.

“People seemed to have been caught off-guard by the new winter snow after the roads had been dry for so many days,” said RCMP spokesperson Gord Molendyk.

There were also reports of at least three semi trucks jackknifed on Highway 97 on St. Anne’s Hill in Spallumcheen before noon.


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