Concerns raised about deadly corner where teachers died

'The idea of cement barriers has been going through my head all day'

Catherine Litt / Kamloops Daily News
December 10, 2012 01:00 AM

Clearwater Search and Rescue along with the RCMP dive team prepare to search the submerged vehicle.

As residents of Clearwater mourn the loss of Skye and Courtney Buck, questions are being raised about highway safety.

The couple was driving north on Highway 5 at about 7 p.m. on Sunday when their car left the road on a section known as Wolf's Corner, about 17 kilometres south of Clearwater.

"The idea of cement barriers has been going through my head all day," said Andrea Lenny as news spread Monday about the tragedy.

"Obviously there's something wrong there and all it would take would be to have some cement along there."

Lenny is well acquainted with that part of Highway 5. She runs a trucking company in Clearwater and has lived in the community for nearly 40 years, travelling in and out hundreds of times.

She and her husband drove that section of highway about two hours after the accident on their way home from Kamloops. Emergency crews were still on scene with spotlights scanning the water.

It wasn't until later that she learned who had died in the accident.

"My kids grew up here and they all knew this couple," said Lenny. "It's just a terrible tragedy."

There are no concrete barriers on that stretch of Highway 5, but Lenny and others say it's time there were.

Wolf's Corner is described as a "gentle curve" but when a vehicle skids off the asphalt, it goes over a steep embankment - with little to stop it from plunging into the North Thompson River.

"If you go over, it's straight down and into the water," said Lenny.

"And this side of the river is the deepest and really swift. And there's nothing, no trees, not even a couple of feet at the bottom where you could conceivably have your vehicle stop; it's just straight into the water."

RCMP Cpl. Bart Doerr is the spokesman for the Clearwater police detachment. He's been with the unit for only four months but he has already gained an appreciation for the risk posed by Wolf's Corner.

"Difficult may not be the right word for it, but they do have accidents there, said Doerr. "It is known as a corner to be cautious for."

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake is also familiar with that section of Highway 5 and said the Ministry of Transportation will investigate the area to see if additional safety measures are needed.

He said barriers are not typically installed on the inside of a curve, as would be the case with Wolf's Corner.

"It's not what we would consider a high-incident part of the highway," he said.

Still, Lake said he would ensure the transportation ministry looks into the matter.

"I mean, God, my heart is just breaking for that community, so if there's anything that we should be doing, we will do," he said.

"I'm just not in a position to say, 'Yes, we should have had barriers there,' because I just don't know."

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