Traffic remains restricted to one lane Monday afternoon following a fatal collision on the Malakwa Bridge Saturday night which killed a 29-year-old Abbotsford man.
The incident occurred at around 8:30 p.m. A westbound semi tractor-trailer and an eastbound semi hauling a flatbed clipped each other as they were crossing the bridge, Cpl. Mike Wasylenki of the Trans Canada East Traffic Services reported Monday. As a result, the driver of the westbound semi lost control and collided with the bridge.
Firefighters and an Eagle Valley Rescue Society crew were soon on the scene. The jaws of life was needed to extricate the driver of the westbound vehicle. One witness reported, “the dash was literally right on top of him.” The driver was finally removed at about 11 p.m., but died soon after from serious injuries.
The bridge remained closed to traffic until late Sunday afternoon. Ministry of Transportation spokesperson Jeff Knight says the collision resulted in damage to a structural component of the arch on the west abutment. Temporary repairs have since been made. However, Knight says travel on the bridge will be restricted to the east lane, allowing only one commercial vehicle at a time, until full repairs are completed later this week. Subsequently, Drive BC is reporting two- and three-hour delays for sailings at the Galena Bay and Shelter Bay ferries.
It was only a matter of time before such a tragedy occurred at the Malakwa Bridge, says area resident Darline Menear.
“It scares me when I go across the bridge, especially when trailers are coming… especially at night” stated Menear.
Menear says she has written to the Ministry of Transportation asking for a walkway for her grandchildren. She says she was told that until circumstances such as a “fatal crash” takes place, nothing would be done.
Terry Morin, a truck driver, says the speed limit on the bridge needs to be addressed.. “They should take the speed limit down,” says Morin. “Trucks have to be 10 km. slower, at least.”
Responding to word that the bridge is soon coming up for replacement, Knight said that, apart from the current damage, “the bridge is in good shape and it will perform for many years yet.”
Wasylenki says the incident remains under investigation.
Story includes files from Victoria Rowbottom
The Malakwa Bridge remains closed following a two-vehicle collision Saturday night.
Witnesses report a westbound semi tractor-trailer was sideswiped while crossing the bridge at around 8:30 p.m. by an oncoming semi hauling a flatbed. The eastbound truck continued on, while the westbound semi is said to have collided with the bridge. The damage to the semi was severe enough to require an Eagle Valley Rescue Society crew to extricate the driver from the cab.
Fire crews on the scene also had to deal with a resulting engine fire.
Engineers have been called to the scene to inspect structural damage to the bridge, which has remained closed since the incident and may open late Sunday afternoon, though Drive BC reports low confidence that this will occur.
The Eagle Valley News will continue to provide updates when information is available.
Photos by Victoria Rowbottom