Greyhound passenger speaks of chaos and fear during Coquihalla crash

Surrey woman Jane Green recounts terrifying moments, and a good emergency response

Jane Green, a survivor of the multi-vehicle crash on the Coquihalla highway Sunday, is calling the outcome miraculous. Twenty nine people were sent to hospital, so far no fatalities have been reported. Submitted photo

A woman who was a passenger on a Greyhound bus involved in the multi-vehicle crash Sunday evening that closed the Coquihalla Highway describes scenes of chaos and fear, as well as an organized response by rescue crews.

Jane Green, a Surrey resident traveling from Salmon Arm to the Lower Mainland, said it felt like the crash happened in slow motion.

RCMP have yet to comment on the number of vehicles involved, but Hope Search and Rescue said Monday the chain-reaction crash involved four semi-trucks, four buses and 11 private vehicles. The wreck closed the highway in both directions for six hours.

Green’s bus driver lost control on the slippery, snowy road and crashed into a semi-truck already stalled on the highway.

“It went on for a while, we hit the semi and we were still moving,” she told the Hope Standard, saying the bus she was in kept sliding down the highway after impact.

“I was fearful that we would slide over and fall over there too. We got hit from behind as well. I don’t know what hit us from behind.”

Another bus came up behind theirs, she said, and slid into the embankment, landing upside down, followed by another car.

“I was scared. I thought those people were hurt or dead, that had fallen off the road, and I thought we could be next,” she said.

“Because things were ongoing and I didn’t know what was going to happen, if we were going to slide off the road too, I wanted to send out a text to my children, but I also didn’t want to upset them.”

Instead she texted the father of her children: “I’m in an accident, it’s a bad accident, it’s still ongoing, please check on the kids.”

The scene inside the bus was chaotic until everything finally came to a stop.

“We were yelling and screaming during the accident. I was yelling ‘No, no!’ But then it all stopped. Everybody was quite calm and just waiting, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the rescuers,” she said.

People began clambering out of the overturned bus on the embankment and a third Greyhound bus lodged between two semi-trucks. They escaped through windows and hatches, some bleeding. They made their way onto Green’s bus, which was less damaged on impact.

Paramedics eventually came on board to check on those injured. The road was then cleared and Green’s bus made its way to a warming centre at Hope Secondary School.

“I’m actually quite impressed by how organized the rescue people were,” Green said, adding plans kept changing but the passengers were kept informed.

The response involved multiple emergency response agencies: Hope Search and Rescue, Chilliwack Search and Rescue, Hope Fire Department, Agassiz Fire Department and the Popkum Volunteer Fire Department. Twenty-two units from the BC Emergency Health Services responded as well.

Hospitals in Hope and Chilliwack called a “code orange” in preparation for mass casualties coming in from the crash. Twenty-nine people were seen at the Fraser Canyon Hospital. Another 136 people were taken to the warming centre.

Winter weather was a “major contributing factor” to the crash, the RCMP stated, reminding drivers to keep slow speeds, increase space between vehicles and use winter-weather tires.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena would not comment directly on the incident, but said the highway had been plowed 20 minutes before the crash.

“We are making sure that the contractors are working as fast as possible,” she told reporters in Victoria. “They were ready for this bad weather, they were working hard.”

Trevena added higher standards of highway maintenance will be negotiated with contractors, but next steps will only be decided once the investigation into the crash is wrapped up.

 

Multiple fire, search and rescue and health services agencies were involved in a complex rescue on the Coquihalla highway Sunday night. A total of 29 people were taken to hospital. Hope Search and Rescue photo

Just Posted

UPDATE: Firefighter blown back from explosion at fire above Kelowna art gallery

A fire was reported at the Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography

Okanagan hockey player wins Gold for Canada

Vernon’s Anne Cherkowski, along with three others, trains at Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence

More supportive housing annouced for Kelowna

New homes with support services for people experiencing homelessness

Hometown Hockey co-host ready for West Kelowna visit

Tara Slone and Ron MacLean host the Hometown Hockey festival this weekend

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Judge denies requests from Calgary couple charged in son’s death

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills

Ex-Mountie investigating ‘Surrey six’ murders pleads guilty to obstruction

Derek Brassington entered his plea in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

Man blames his loud car radio, sirens for crash with B.C. ambulance

Tribunal rejects bid to recoup ICBC costs after crash deemed 100-per-cent his fault

RECALL: Salmon Village maple salmon nuggets

Customers warned not to eat product due to possible Listeria contamination

More than 100,000 toxic toys named in Canada-wide recall

Plastic doll contains levels of phthalates over allowable limit and may pose chemical hazard

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Most Read