The mayor of Merritt, British Columbia, questioned why the Okanagan Connector wasn’t closed on Christmas Eve due to inclement weather. After a fatal vehicle crash on a highway near the city that claimed the lives of four people and injured dozens that day.
The accident involving a passenger bus was reported at about 6:14 pm on December 24 on the road known as Highway 97C. RCMP News ReleaseAt least 53 people were injured and four passengers were found dead after the bus rolled off the road and onto the passenger side.
Merritt Mayor Mike Getz questioned why road maintenance contractors hadn’t closed roads after a severe storm that struck before Christmas Eve left much of the state and paralyzed the rest of the country. did.
“I think contractors should have been a little more aggressive on the highway that night and closed that highway,” Goetz said. CBC News reported December 29th.
“I don’t think the highway should have been opened for public transport at that point because it was too dangerous.”
A storm left thousands of people in British Columbia without power on December 24 and several days later.
BC Transport Minister Rob Fleming stated on December 22nd The crew was out in preparation for an incoming storm, and some highways “could be shut down suddenly,” he said.
As of December 26, seven of the crashed passengers were in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Fleming said. on social media.
On December 27, Fleming said heavy equipment was deployed to maintain the road on the tragic day, and that “there was little rainfall”. He spoke at a press conference about the crash.
In a December 27 statement, the BC RCMP described Christmas Eve road conditions as “fluid, transitioning from sunny wet roads to icy conditions with ice and snow on the road surface depending on the time of day (sunset) and changes. ‘ explained. weather conditions. “
Police said an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Goetz said there may be reluctance to close the highway due to concerns about the flow of commerce.
“Being a trade highway, I think there is some hesitation,” he told the CBC. “It moves commodities, and it involves commerce.
Canadian Press contributed to this report.