Nine people injured, U.S. driver charged after MVI near Merritt
An American driver involved in a collision Dec. 28 near Merritt is facing several charges, according to RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
At around 12 p.m. on Monday afternoon, Moskaluk said, the Merritt RCMP and the RCMP Central Interior Traffic Services were dispatched to a single vehicle collision which occurred a few kilometres East of Merritt on Hwy 97C near the Hamilton Hill area.
“Speed relative to winter road conditions and driver inexperience were contributing factors as to why the full-sized black Ford SUV left the road into the right-side ditch along Hwy 97C. The full-sized SUV was being driven by a 47-year-old man and was accompanied by his family and another family; all vacationing in BC from California.”
Moskaluk said several Samaritans offered to help.
“Witness motorists stopped to assist at the time of the collision, as four of the nine vehicle occupants were ejected from the vehicle by the impact, when the vehicle spun around and went into the ditch back end first,” he said. “Investigators confirmed that the four passengers who were ejected were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision.
“The impact was severe enough to eject two of the unbelted children out of the vehicle and across the four lane highway into the opposing snow-covered ditch. BC Ambulance Services were dispatched as well and attended with four road ambulances and one air ambulance. Six of the nine passengers received injuries of varying degrees of seriousness. The driver and his 14-year-old son received serious but non-life-threatening injuries and were transported via road ambulance for an overnight stay at a medical facility in Kamloops. One of the girls that was ejected from the vehicle, an 11-year-old, was airlifted initially to Kamloops then flown to Vancouver in serious but stable condition. The six other occupants were transported to Merritt via road ambulance, with three of them being moved to Kelowna for care. All are currently recovering from their injuries.”
The 47-year-old driver has been charged with the following Motor Vehicle Act charges:
Drive without due care and attention;
Permit passengers under 16 to be improperly seated without seatbelts;
Carry too many passengers for designated seating.
“Winter road conditions vary throughout the province at this time of year, all requiring drivers to lower their speed and increase their distances between vehicles while driving. We remind drivers that posted speed limits are for optimal road and weather conditions and to please drive according to the weather and road conditions. Lastly, please insure that your passengers are properly seated and buckled in,” said RCMP Traffic Services Cpl Tim Lyons.