A semi-truck, hauling a paving machine and two 45-gallon oil drums, flipped on the Eight Mile hairpin on Highway 33 around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The truck, which was heading eastbound just past Goudie Road, likely crashed due to speed and a load shift in its flatbed trailer, according to Joe Rich fire chief Curtis Nyuli.
Truck driver Jeff Smith witnessed Tuesday morning’s crash while driving westbound near the hairpin turn, which has a speed limit of 30 km/h.
Smith said the driver was going “way too fast,” estimating he may have taken the corner at up to 60 km/h.
“Even 30 km/h is almost too fast for this road,” said Smith. “He must not be from this area.”
Following the incident, Smith ran up to see if the driver was OK.
“He was already trying to climb out his window. He didn’t look bad at all, but his arm was bleeding.”
The driver, believed to be in his 50s, was taken to Kelowna General Hospital with minor injuries.
Marc Ruehle, was another truck driver first on the scene.
“He was coming into the corner too fast and the load took him over,” said Ruehle.
Rescue crews and a hazardous materials team ordered a load of gravel to deal with the oil spilling across the highway. The Ministry of Environment was also advised of the situation.
Larger trucks were delayed for about three hours while crews dealt with the situation; smaller vehicles were rerouted through an unpaved route via Goudie Road.
Nyuli said he is aware of 15 to 20 similar crashes on the hairpin turn in the 19 years he’s been with the Joe Rich Fire Department. He noted Tuesday’s incident was the second this year.
“We’ve had multiple incidents, right here where we’re standing,” said Nyuli.
“Ninety per cent of the time it’s speed and an unstable load.”
When asked what needs to be done to prevent such crashes, Nyuli said: “Awareness.”
“I know over the years they’ve doubled up on the signage. More awareness (is needed) and the ministry has got to take a look at this long-term and find a solution. Possibly a bridge to mitigate this sharp turn.”
With several road rollers from the paving machine spread out in the ditch and on the highway, Nyuli said the accident could’ve been much worse had a vehicle been travelling closer in the westbound lane. He added the dry conditions could’ve easily led to a fire as well.
Tuesday’s accident marks the second time a semi-truck has sent fire crews rushing to the scene of near disaster this week.
Just after noon Monday, a semi-tractor trailer unit caught fire on Highway 97C near Peachland, requiring police and forestry crews to snuff out the flames.