Kamloops driver survives Port Mann ice bombs

'I can't stand to look at it'

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
December 20, 2012 01:00 AM

Dan Houghton, right, is shown on the front page of The Province.

His car pelted by "ice bombs" from the Port Mann bridge, Kamloops resident Dan Houghton is stuck with a courtesy car while a cracked windshield and dents to his two-day old Fiat are repaired.

Houghton said the car only had 184 kilometres on it when he and two passengers found themselves trapped on the brand-new bridge Wednesday.

He marveled at the structure's design when he drove down to Vancouver on Monday to purchase the Fiat, saying the 11-lane toll bridge is gorgeous.

But, having suffered through the downpour of ice followed by a drive into Surrey with a smashed windshield, his opinion is slightly altered.

"I can't stand to look at it," Houghton said of the bridge, upon his return to Kamloops.

Houghton found himself stuck in a long line of vehicles on the bridge at about noon on Wednesday. At first, he thought there might have been an accident further up the road.

Then a chunk of ice landed beside his car. And then another, he said.

Boom! Something heavy landed on the Fiat's roof on the passenger's side.

"It dented the roof in so the roof came at (his passenger)," said Houghton.

Another ball of ice hit above the back seat, and then a third smashed the front windshield.

Houghton said it wasn't easy, but he was able to navigate his way off the bridge and into Surrey, where he found a hotel.

He arranged through the Insurance Corporation of B.C. to take the vehicle to a body shop Thursday morning. Houghton said the damage is at least $4,000.

Fortunately, the Transportation Investment Corporation, the Crown agency that operates the bridge, will pay the deductibles of drivers whose vehicles were damaged in the incident, he said.

Tolls for travellers crossing the bridge between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. will also be waived.

Houghton doesn't know when he'll be able to pick up his new car.

More than 100 vehicle insurance claims have been filed after chunks of ice pelted down from the bridge's suspension cables during Wednesday's snowstorm. Two people were injured.

Transportation Minister Mary Polak said the contractor that built the Port Mann should have known snow and ice could be a problem.

She said her ministry was aware of that as a potential problem when the contract for the bridge was put together.

But she said what happened on Wednesday shows the contract's requirements weren't met.

Kiewit-Flatiron General Partnership built the bridge, but no one from Kiewit was available for comment Thursday.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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