FIELD – More than 50 emergency personnel responded to a head-on crash near Field that left one person dead on Wednesday (June 15).
Just before 8 a.m., Golden-Field RCMP and BC Highway Patrol attended a collision involving a logging truck and a Sport Utility Vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway near Emerald Lake Road in Yoho National Park.
Police say the driver of the SUV did not survive and the driver of the logging truck was transported to hospital in Calgary by STARS air ambulance with non-life threatening injuries. The highway was closed for several hours.
RCMP say initial evidence gathered at the scene as part of their investigation indicated that the eastbound SUV crossed the centre line and crashed head-on with a logging truck coming from the opposite direction.
“Investigators have determined that there was no criminality involved”, says Cpl. Alex Bérubé, spokesperson for the BC RCMP in a news release. “The investigation remains with the Golden RCMP and the BC Coroners Service”.
Following the impact, the tractor-trailer rolled down a steep embankment by the fast-flowing Kicking Horse River and caught on fire. The front part of the cab of the logging truck landed in the river, but the driver was able to get out.
"The driver of the logging truck did crawl his way out of the vehicle," said RCMP Sergeant Chris Manseau, a media relations spokesperson for BC RCMP.
Firefighters helped extract the deceased driver of the SUV from the vehicle.
Deb Tetley, a spokesperson for STARS, said the STAR-1 crew rendezvoused with EMS from Banff and B.C. in Yoho National Park to pick up a 35-year-old man who sustained injuries in the two-vehicle collision.
“The patient was cared for in the helicopter en-route to Foothills Medical Centre where he arrived in stable condition,” she said in an email.
Parks Canada staff responding included park wardens, two initial attack fire crews, resource conservation and environmental assessment staff, and staff from the highways operations unit.
A spokesperson for Parks Canada said wardens assisted with the overall scene and incident management, and coordinated the response among all responding agencies.
They also secured the scene for multiple helicopter landings from Alpine Helicopters and STARS Air Ambulance.
"The collision resulted in a large fire and Parks Canada initial wildfire attack crews assisted with suppression efforts," said James Eastham, a spokesperson for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kooenay field units.
"Alpine Helicopters as well as the Banff, Lake Louise and Golden fire departments also provided fire suppression support. The fire was extinguished."
Eastham said the collision also resulted in a significant diesel fuel spill.
"Staff from Parks Canada’s resource conservation and environmental monitoring teams were on site to assess potential environmental impacts and oversee the spill cleanup," he said.
Parks Canada’s highway operations unit monitored the highway closure, communicated updates to DriveBC and managed the highway reopening. The highway reopened at 2 p.m.
"This incident was serious and complex and Parks Canada would like to thank all our partners who assisted in responding," said Eastham.
"Parks Canada extends its sincere condolences to all those who were impacted by yesterday's events."
Crews from the Banff Fire Department, Lake Louise Fire Department, Golden Fire Rescue, Banff EMS, B.C. EMS, Alpine Helicopters, STARS air ambulance and Parks Canada all attended the scene.
In a Facebook post, Lake Louise Fire Department said the scene was another example of all mutual aid partners coming together from across the region.
“With more than 50 first-responders attending a serious incident today, all agencies worked together for the best possible outcomes,” according to the department’s Facebook post.
The RCMP will not release any more information at this time, pending notification of next-of-kin of the deceased driver.