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Crash prompts Malahat review

Dec 12 2012
Sgt. Rob Webb of Shawnigan Lake RCMP speaks with media after a crash near the Malahat summit in October. A second crash took place in the same spot on Monday. 

Sgt. Rob Webb of Shawnigan Lake RCMP speaks with media after a crash near the Malahat summit in October. A second crash took place in the same spot on Monday.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist , Times Colonist

B.C. Transportation Minister Mary Polak vowed Tuesday to consider further improvements to the Malahat, including medians in the area where three people narrowly avoided serious injury in a collision Monday.

Polak has ordered an engineering and design review of the crash site, including the area near the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Whittier Road, and where the road goes from two lanes to one lane in both directions.

The review, expected to take four to six months, should give Polak various options.

"So much of it depends on the specific geography of the location," she said. "In some cases you're limited just by what's taking place on the land in that particular area."

The crash occurred at 5: 20 p.m. Monday, where the southbound lanes merge, just south of the summit.

RCMP said a Slegg Lumber construction truck was passed by a blue Cavalier. The Cavalier touched the front end of the truck as it passed, causing the car to spin sideways. A southbound 2004 Volkswagen Jetta hit the Cavalier, causing extensive damage to both vehicles.

The driver of the Cavalier, a 31-year-old Sooke man, was removed from the wreckage with the use of hydraulic rescue tools. He was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The road was closed for an hour as emergency crews tended to the injured and removed the wrecked vehicles.

It was the second crash in the area in two months. Three Nanaimo women died in October after the Honda CRV they were in skidded into the path of a pickup carrying three adults.

"I've seen enough of it," said Rob Patterson, chief of Malahat Fire Rescue. "We're there to respond but if there's anything we can do to prevent it, that's key."

Patterson would like to see more medians installed now.

"Taxpayers' money could be best spent working on the Malahat, not looking at it," he said after the announcement.

"They've had engineers and surveyors up and down the [Malahat] for the last 3 1 /2 months, driving stakes and taking measurements."

This isn't even the most dangerous spot on the Mala-hat, he said.

"There's a much worse spot on the hill than that one - by the Petro-Can in Mala-hat village."

Most of the crashes on the Malahat point to drivers, rather than the road, as the problem, said Sgt. Rob Webb of Shawnigan Lake RCMP.

"Medians would certainly help reduce head-on crashes," he said. "Ultimately, more drivers need to respect each other on the roads we travel daily."

Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to contact Shawnigan Lake RCMP at 250-743-5514.

rshaw@timescolonist.com smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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