A fatal car crash and mudslide shut down two highways in the mountain national parks over the weekend.
On Friday (July 22), Highway 93 South was closed when an unloaded tractor trailer and a camper van towing a Suzuki Sidekick collided at approximately 2:45 p.m.
A family of four, two adults and two young girls from Palo Alto, California, were in the camper van, which was pinned after the tractor trailer crossed the centre line and jack-knifed into its path.
The collision also caused the camper to ignite and, according to a B.C. RCMP press release, the driver made all efforts to avoid the collision with the truck by driving onto the shoulder of the road.
Motorists who stopped were able to assist the truck driver, but helpless to assist the family due to the fire.
The highway reopened to single vehicle traffic Friday evening and while closed travellers were redirected to alternative routes.
Parks Canada spokesperson Omar McDadi said Parks crews were first responders to the accident and helped deal with the fire and cleanup.
McDadi said staff are greatly saddened by the accident and their thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of the victims.
Meanwhile, a mudslide shut down the Trans-Canada Highway east of the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint in Yoho National Park, Friday (July 22) evening around 11 p.m.
Parks Canada spokesperson Mark Merchant said the slide, containing mud, large rocks and trees, was six metres deep and 70 metres in length.
It started on Cathedral Mountain before crossing the highway and brought down 500 cubic metres of debris.
Merchant said travelers not using the TCH as a throughway east or west were able to get to their locations on either side of the closure, meaning businesses and attractions remained open.
“We know it is an area that can (have mudslides) but there was lots of rain in the previous days so that is probably what precipitated that event,” he said.
The road reopened at 1 p.m. on Sunday (July 24), a day earlier than originally expected.
Merchant said crews worked hard to clear the debris from the road, took down another 500 cubic metres of loose rock from the cliff and dug a pit along the road so if further slides occur they won’t cover the route.
In fall, he added, crews will remove debris from the area.
“Parks Canada wants to acknowledge all efforts to get this transportation corridor opened,” he said.