by Dale Bass/Kamloops This Week
A 19-year-old Pritchard man died Friday afternoon when the car he was driving on the Trans-Canada Highway crossed the centre line and collided with an eastbound passenger bus.
The crash occurred about 4 p.m., 11 kilometres west of Chase, just east of Hoffman’s Bluff, and resulted in a number of ambulances, an air ambulance and fire rescue personnel responding.
Sascha Dieter Hedrich was the driver and lone occupant of the Chevrolet Cavalier. Police report the vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane, hitting the bus carrying 57 student tourists from Korea head-on.
The Interior Health Authority said 57 people were taken to Royal Inland Hospital, one in serious condition, 20 with non-life-threatening injuries and 36 who were not injured.
Sgt. Mike Pears of the RCMP’s Central Interior Traffic services said the most serious injury on the bus was to the driver, who was taken to hospital in Kamloops but released within 24 hours.
The highway was closed in both directions for some time following the accident, which area residents said sounded like an explosion from an industrial accident. Surrounding roads were also congested as motorists tried to find a way around the accident.
Pears said alcohol is not considered a factor in the crash.
A second tour bus was sent to the scene with a police escort to collect passengers who weren’t injured.
Hoffman’s Bluff on Highway 1 east of Chase is a notorious area for fatal accidents.
The area of the accident is part of a massive, multi-million-dollar widening program funded by the provincial and federal governments.
Last week, Transportation Minister Todd Stone held a press conference along Highway 1 west of Chase to announce $95 million to widen the highway from the east end of Hoffman’s Bluff, which is under reconstruction now, through to Chase Creek Road.
The second phase will see four-laning through to the Petro-Canada station on the highway at the west end of Chase.