Members of an Afghan refugee family killed in crash near Clearwater

'Saddened' by triple fatality

UPDATE 5:55 p.m.

Three members of a family that had newly arrived from Afghanistan were the victims of a multi-vehicle crash in British Columbia's Interior on Wednesday.

Premier David Eby says the deaths involve layers of tragedy for the victims, their families and others who knew them.

RCMP say a Ford F150 truck crossed the centre line on Highway 5 near Clearwater, side-swiped a pickup hauling a trailer, then slammed into a Ford Escape whose occupants included recent refugees.

Three people were killed in the Escape, while two others were seriously hurt.

Police say road conditions were not a factor in the crash, and while the driver of the F150 is co-operating with the investigation, it's unclear why the person's vehicle crossed into the oncoming lane.

The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 4:28 p.m.

B.C.’s transportation minister says he was “deeply saddened” after hearing about a three-vehicle crash near Clearwater which killed three people and seriously injured two others on Wednesday.

According to police, two of the three people who died in the Highway 5 crash were recent newcomers to Canada.

“I was deeply saddened when I learned of the accident, and I want to express my most sincere condolences to the family and friends of those involved in the tragic collision,” said Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure, in a statement.

“I also extend my thoughts and appreciation to the first responders who, recently, have been too frequently called to attend accidents along this corridor.”

The latest vehicle incident comes in the wake of several other crashes along the Highway 5 corridor, including two collisions which resulted in fatalities last month.

Fleming said a full RCMP investigation is being conducted into Wednesday’s crash.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of people on our roads; everyone deserves to get where they are going safely and get home to their families at the end of the day,” the minister said.

ORIGINAL: 9:39 a.m.

Two of the three people who died in a triple-vehicle collision south of Clearwater on Wednesday were newcomers to Canada, according to police.

The crash took place in the 3300-block of Highway 5. First responders were called out to the incident just before 11 a.m.

In a statement, police said a southbound Ford F150 pickup from Alberta crossed the highway centre line and sideswiped a Ford F550 hauling a trailer before colliding head-on with a Ford Escape.

“Three occupants of the Ford Escape were determined to be deceased at the scene. Two others in the same vehicle sustained serious injuries and were transported to hospital,” BC Highway Patrol Insp. Chad Badry said in the statement.

“Two of the deceased were recent refugee immigrants.”

According to police, the driver of the F150 wasn’t seriously injured but was transported to hospital. The driver of the F550 was uninjured.

BC Emergency Health Services said six ground ambulances and an air ambulance responded to the crash.

The Yellowhead Highway was closed for hours in the wake of the collision as police investigated and recovered the vehicles. The route was re-opened just after 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell told Castanet Kamloops that Wednesday was a difficult day for the community. Along with other mayors and local elected officials, Blackwell has called for sustained RCMP and CVSE enforcement along the Highway 5 corridor among other highway improvements.

Mounties said BC Highway Patrol in Clearwater is continuing the investigation to determine why the F150 driver crossed over the centre line.

“Road conditions were not a factor and the driver of the Ford 150 is cooperating with police,” Badry said.

Anyone who witnessed the collision, including anyone with dash cam footage of pre-collision driving, is asked to contact the BC Highway Patrol office in Kamloops at 250-828-3111.

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