Numerous Highway 97 crashes between Vernon, Lake Country prompt safety calls

Driving Highway 97 between Vernon and Lake Country Jan. 8 was not recommended due to the conditions. (Kane Blake photo)
A rollover off Highway 97 between Vernon and Lake Country Sunday, Jan. 9. (Van Kampen photo)
A semi-truck jack-knifed on Highway 97 south of Vernon blocks traffic heading to Kelowna Friday morning. (Cory Blasner photo)
A jack-knifed semi-truck on Highway 97 in Lake Country is causing delays and detours for motorists. (Nicole Swanson photo)
Several crashes plagued Highway 97 between Vernon and Lake Country over the weekend and last Friday. (Van Kampen photo)

Dozens of cars in the ditches, some on their roofs, plaguing a snow-covered stretch of Highway 97 has locals calling for caution.

“Please! Please! Please! Slow down out there,” Tess Van Kampen said, after her husband encountered two vehicles that had gone off the road, one on its roof, on his way to Vernon from Lake Country Sunday morning. “The roads are very treacherous!”

Van Kampen’s post with a couple photos in the Lake Country BC – One Community Facebook group prompted a number of responses.

Tyler Kristiansen observed 17 cars in the ditches on the evening of Jan. 6, including those on Commonage Road.

Driving from Winfield to Vernon for work, Rick Mcintyre said the conditions were still poor Sunday morning, and had been the same for the last week.

“Worst try at road clearing ever seen, looks like two kids with broken shovels cleaned it,” Mcintyre said.

Area resident Lucas Shelley says it’s not unusual to see so many crashes on this stretch of highway.

“That’s a very bad stretch of highway in the winter. We see this every year from our living room window,” Shelley said.

Driving to Vernon from Lake Country Saturday evening, Kane Blake posted a dash camera photo of the white roads, warning others to stay home.

“If you don’t have to I recommend not doing it. The roads are OK in spots and trash in other spots. In areas we had to slow down to about 50/60km. Vernon roads look they don’t even have a plow,” said Blake, who on his way home counted four vehicles in the ditch more spots where vehicles had gone off the road. “The entire drive we were in four-wheel drive and still slid around in spots.”

Several traffic incidents south of Vernon closed down Highway 97 Friday morning.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP issued the closure “due to incredibly poor road conditions.”

Black Press Media has reached out to AIM Roads, the maintenance contractor responsible for the area, for comment on the situation.

READ MORE: ‘Avoid travel’: Vernon urges on snow-covered roads/highways

READ MORE: Highway 97 south of Vernon reopened


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