The family of a woman killed in a motorcycle crash on East Shuswap Road on the weekend believes she would be alive today had the road been properly maintained by the provincial government and its road contractor.
According to her family, Alexis Wiltse, 38, died on the afternoon of Saturday, May 6, after the motorcycle she was riding hit a large pothole on East Shuswap Road, near Miner Road, east of Sun Rivers. A second person on another motorcycle travelling alongside was treated in hospital for minor injuries, according to police.
East Shuswap Road runs through the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc reserve and its maintenance is the responsibility of the provincial government.
In a statement sent to Kamloops This Week, Jamie Wiltse, sister of Alexis, pointed to an April 2022 KTW story regarding provincial government plans to upgrade East Shuswap Road in the summer of 2023.
“My sister was killed on Sat., May 6, 2023 because she hit a pothole on this road while riding her motorcycle,” Jamie said in the statement.
“Our family is heartbroken and cannot fathom why the province left this road in such poor repair without adequate warning for drivers. Only one, small red triangle marked this pothole, right at its location. She would be alive today if this road was properly maintained. She was only 38 yrs old. Several locals stopped to talk to us when we were at the site of the accident and told us they knew someone would die as a result of the poor condition of the road.”
Following the fatal crash, provincial-contracted road crews filled the pothole with gravel.
At a March 31, 2022, meeting between Kamloops and Tk’emlúps councils. Tk’emlúps Coun. Justin Gottriedson said East Shuswap Road is one of the “weakest” pieces of provincial transportation infrastructure in Interior British Columbia.
He said East Shuswap Road lacks shoulders, lighting and other safety components. The band drafted a letter to Minister of Transportation Rob Fleming on the matter and enlisted support from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, local MLAs and the City of Kamloops in pushing the province for upgrades to the provincial right-of-way.
At that same meeting, City of Kamloops development director Marvin Kwiatkowski called improvements to East Shuswap Road “long overdue” and then-Kamloops mayor Ken Christian said the route is a “recipe for disaster” due to myriad user groups, including cyclists and motorists.
A week after concerns were raised at that meeting, in early April 2022, KTW contacted the Ministry of Transportation, which responded with a statement on plans for a 17-kilometre stretch of the road.
“East Shuswap Road has seen various maintenance activities in recent years to ensure the safety of the travelling public,” the statement reads. “Now, the road requires rehabilitation of the asphalt surface, along with drainage improvements and road base repair and planning for the road work is underway. The Ministry has completed pavement evaluations and approximately 17 kilometres of asphalt resurfacing is being planned for the summer of 2023. Pothole and overlay patching will continue as needed prior to the summer 2023 rehabilitation project.”
Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Crystal Evelyn said the Tk’emlúps Rural RCMP detachment is investigating a fatal crash, which occurred at about 5:25 p.m.
“Officers arrived to find civilians performing first aid on one of the motorcyclists injured in the crash, but she sadly succumbed to her injuries,” Evelyn said in a release. “A second motorcyclist was taken to hospital with minor injuries.”
Evelyn said no criminality is suspected by police, noting the BC Coroners Service is conducting a concurrent investigation.
Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000 and reference file 2023-15714.
KTW has a call in to the Ministry of Transportation regarding the family’s concerns and maintenance of East Shuswap Road.
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