A mother and her two young daughters have died in a collision on the Trans-Canada Highway just west of Rogers Pass.
The incident occurred about six kilometres west of Rogers Pass summit at about 5:10 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
Revelstoke RCMP said a westbound 2003 Suzuki SUV appeared to have lost control on a straight stretch and entered the oncoming lane. It was struck by an eastbound tractor-trailer. RCMP investigators say the SUV was sliding or skidding sideways when it was struck by the tractor-trailer.
Sgt. Mike Pears of the Trans-Canada East Traffic Services said the impact was devastating. “The impact of the collision was so severe that all three female occupants of the vehicle were deceased immediately,” he said in a statement.
The victims have been identified as a 36-year-old mother and her two daughters aged four and six. They were Burnaby residents who were travelling home from Calgary at the time.
The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured in the impact. In an interview, Sgt. Pears told the Times Review he does not anticipate police will recommend any charges against the driver of the tractor-trailer. “There is nothing to indicate that the commercial vehicle was at any fault,” Pears said. That vehicle was operated by a company based in Langley.
Pears said the incident occurred on a straight, relatively flat stretch of road to the west of the Loop Brook hairpin curve. It was not snowing and was nearing dark. Pears said the road conditions at the location were not particularly slippery or adverse. “There was a little bit of stuff on the road, but not that bad,” Pears said.
The investigation into the collision in ongoing. The RCMP Trans-Canada East Traffic Services unit and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating. Pears said that investigators would be looking into all possible causes, saying a mechanical inspection was scheduled.
Although Pears stressed that investigators hadn’t come to any conclusions, he noted that driver error such as “reacting to inattention” or “falling asleep” are possible causes given the circumstances. “We have a lot of work ahead of us here,” Pears said.
The RCMP are asking anyone who may have witnessed the collision and have not yet spoken with police to contact the Trans-Canada East Traffic Services Unit in Revelstoke at 250-837-5255.
RCMP say family members have been notified and have requested the names of the deceased not be released.
The collision led to an extensive closure of the Trans-Canada Highway at Rogers Pass. Authorities closed the highway after the incident, and didn’t reopen it for about seven hours, according to Drive BC.
The Trans-Canada Highway through Rogers Pass between Revelstoke and Golden is known for adverse winter conditions. The high mountain pass is frequently closed in winter for avalanche control.
The stretch of highway has been the subject of a longstanding lobby to improve highway conditions. This fall, the mayors of Revelstoke and Golden travelled to a federal budget committee meeting in Ontario to lobby for improvements.
Sgt. Pears said police are expecting a surge of traffic on local highways in the next few days because of the holidays. “We’re just hoping that people will exercise caution while they’re driving, slow down [and] take their time to get to where they’re going so they can have an enjoyable holiday season with their family,” he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from a previous version to include new information.