By Cam Fortems
Daily News Staff Reporter
RCMP divers located a body Tuesday afternoon in Shuswap Lake, thought to be the driver of a semi-trailer unit that flipped over on a bend and plunged into the frigid waters about 14 kilometres east of Chase.
The dive team took to the water in the early afternoon Tuesday and found a man’s body near the tractor unit. From the Trans-Canada Highway above, the truck’s cab could be seen in about 3.5 metres of water, its roof ripped off and resting on the lake bottom close by.
Lettering on the side of the unit indicated it the truck was from Syndicate Transport out of Calgary. A company official said safety and compliance staff was en route Tuesday evening.
The truck was en route to the Lower Mainland. The official said the company was awaiting more information from RCMP before commenting.
Cpl. Mark Skotnicki said Chase RCMP was notified about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday by a driver who saw debris in the lake.
"We don't know when it happened. We don't know if it was overnight or yesterday afternoon."
Hours earlier, the trailer drifted downstream into Little River, where it was eventually corralled at Squilax Bridge by Shuswap Search & Rescue. A yellow directional sign with arrows was knocked over — the only visible indication from the highway of a crash. The concrete no-post between the highway and lake remained upright.
Skotnicki said police believe the weight shifted on the westbound truck, causing it to flip onto the no-post barrier, where it slid several metres.
"The weight probably pulled it over," Skotnicki said of the eventual ride into the lake over an eight-metre embankment. An RCMP reconstructionist was at the scene doing further investigation.
Police said the trailer was a refrigeration unit and appeared to be carrying frozen food. Boxes, bags and other debris could be seen in Little River, much of it floating along the upside-down trailer.
Clad in drysuits, two members of Shuswap Search & Rescue's swiftwater rescue unit paddled to the upside-down trailer, floating lazily down Little River between Shuswap Lake and Little Shuswap Lake. They climbed on top, secured a rope to the trailer and tied it off to the shore.
Late Tuesday morning a heavy tow truck dragged the trailer onshore beside the bridge, about two kilometres from the accident scene.
"That corner has a reputation the same as Hoffman's Bluff," said James Tomma, a staff member at Little Shuswap Indian Band's public works department.
"It's not unusual to see a semi get into an accident there. Every year there's an accident. It's a bad corner and catches people by surprise."
Shuswap's search-and-rescue team brought its eight-metre offshore boat and 10 personnel to the crash site and surrounding waters. Search manager Rob Udy said the boat was trailered to the marina at Little River Boat World, where it was launched.
"We have responded there (the corner) for the exact same thing before," Udy said.
B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation said the highway was closed in both directions at 3:15 p.m. in order for a tow truck to extract the tractor unit from the lake. The highway was reduced to a single, alternating for the morning and much of the afternoon, with light traffic and minimal backups.
Skotnicki said the truck's black box, containing speed and engine data at the time of the accident, will also help police understand how it occurred.
The Ministry of Environment contracted a Kelowna firm to bring a boom to soak up any oil or gasoline released as the truck was pulled from the lake.
Dennis Redford, a senior environmental response officer, said any hydrocarbons released into the water will dissipate with the current and large body of water.
Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Glacier Media Inc.
NOTE: To post a comment in the new commenting system you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID. You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".
The Kamloops Daily News welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.
Please Wait A Moment.
The email and/or password you have provided is not recognized. Please verify your entry and try again. To register please close this window and click "Register" on the top right of the site.