Coroner's service identifies dead trucker

A big rig was about to pull off the Coquihalla Highway when it suddenly swerved in the opposite direction and struck the Coldwater Interchange, a witness to the deadly crash said Thursday.

"It just veered off to the left and into the concrete pillar," said Christie Allan. "It was horrible."

Tom Hogue, 48, of Calgary, Alta. died in the accident.

Allan was a passenger in her husband's semi when the crash occurred early Tuesday morning. Allan said the vehicle was travelling southbound at about 65 km/h and the blue Freightliner was cruising at roughly the same speed.

The Freightliner was a short distance ahead in the right-hand lane with its blinker indicating it was about to take an upcoming exit off the highway.

Without warning the semi changed direction, crossed the fast lane and slammed into a support for the overpass, she said.

"There was a big bang," said Allan, adding the rig exploded in a ball of fire.

Her husband, Christopher Crerar, brought his rig to a stop, grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to help. It took him about 30 seconds to reach the burning vehicle but it was already too late, said Allan.

"When he got up to the truck he just looked back at me and held up his arms. There was no cab. Where do you even start?" she wondered.

She phoned 911 while screaming for Crerar to not get too close to the burning wreck. Other truckers tried to help, but to no avail.

Firefighters arrived on the scene first, then police. The highway was closed for two hours but it took several more to clear the wreckage and get traffic flowing unhindered.

Regional coroner Mark Coleman said preliminary autopsy results show Hogue died from injuries suffered in the collision.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. Allan said her husband told her it was the worst highway accident he's ever seen.

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