By Jennifer Feinberg, Progress
Bob and Marcie Metzek are urging motorists to slow down on wet and icy roads. The two opened their door to some of the 15 victims who were involved in a two-vehicle accident on Chilliwack Central Road Sunday morning. JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Motorists on Chilliwack Central Road should slow down to avoid head-on collisions like the one that recently sent more than a dozen people to hospital.
That's the safety message from a local family in the wake of the multi-victim crash that happened right outside their door last Sunday morning.
"We never saw anything like it before. We've seen a lot of accidents, but none as severe as this one," says Chilliwack Central resident Bob Metzek. "People were screaming, children were crying. Both drivers were pinned and crushed."
He says he and his wife Marcie did what they could to offer help and support to the many accident victims soon after the head-on collision occurred at shortly before 10 a.m.
"We were just getting ready to go to church when we heard a loud bang," he recounts. He says his young daughter and her friend went to survey the accident scene involving a GMC van and a Suburban on the slush-covered road.
"I ran outside and yelled back to the house for them to call 9-1-1," he recounts. "The van actually landed on our driveway."
Ms. Metzek invited some of the children inside their home to warm up, while Mr. Metzek took blankets outside to keep the crash victims from freezing they awaited assistance. The crash site was in East Chilliwack on Chilliwack Central, between Gibson and Upper Prairie Roads.
"Chilliwack Central has always been a road where people drive too fast," says Mr. Metzek. "So the message is for people to slow down, and remember that speed limits are for optimum weather conditions."
The police report lists the road condition at the time of the collision as "wet" with some snow accumulation noted.
"It is too early to determine a primary cause for this accident, however recent snowfall is being considered as a possible contributing factor," says Const. Dave Aucoin. "RCMP encourage all drivers to exercise extreme caution if they must venture out in unfavourable weather or roadway conditions."
Mr. Metzek says he noticed that on that particular morning, drivers were straddling the middle of the slippery road.
"Everyone was trying to hug the centre of the road and you could see that from the tracks they left," he says.
The two vehicles involved in crash are slated to undergo a mechanical inspection, says Const. Aucoin.
Out of the fifteen people travelling in the two vehicles, three were "seriously injured" according to police. The three were airlifted to hospital by helicopter with an advanced life-support team on-board.
At least 10 injured people were taken to local hospital by a total of five ambulances and two others were examined at the scene before being transported home, say police.
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B.C. Ambulance dispatcher Hugh Sundquist acknowledges that the Dec. 28 crash was "a major accident" and required several emergency vehicles to be sent from areas like Hope, Agassiz and Abbotsford.
"Normally at that time of day we would have three ambulances available in Chilliwack," he says. "Under normal circumstances we can handle the load and if we get too busy, we bring them in from other areas in the Fraser Valley."
Chilliwack firefighters from two fire halls were on scene, helping attendants load ambulances, extricating trapped victims and maintaining scene safety, says Chilliwack fire chief Rick Ryall.
"It was unusual in the sense that 15 people were involved in one traffic accident," he says.