“There’s no use crying over spilt milk” is a saying that probably doesn’t apply when 160,000 glasses’ worth are lost in a single Highway 1 crash.
On Sunday night, a large rolled-over dairy truck was recovered from the side of Highway 1 just east of Whatcom Road, where it had been sitting wrecked since the morning of Jan. 15.
The milk hauler’s recovery was valued at over $500,000, and approximately 40,000 litres of milk was lost, a spokesperson for the BC Milk Marketing Board said in an email. At $5 for a four-litre jug of milk, the total dollar amount in spilled milk would be over $50,000 alone.
The spokesperson said the crash occurred on Jan. 15 at around 2 a.m. following a snowfall, icy roads and blowing snow. This was five hours before the highway was closed from Chilliwack to Abbotsford.
“A third-party transport truck moved in front of the milk hauler. This led to blind conditions, which caused the milk truck to leave the roadway,” the BC Milk Marketing Board said. “We’re pleased to report the driver is fine and will recover.”
Abbotsford Police put out a warning on social media that morning, just before the highway was closed, to warn drivers to stay home due to the treacherous conditions. They said emergency crews were having trouble reaching all the stranded drivers.
— Patrick Penner (@portmoodypigeon) January 15, 2020
The dairy truck was removed between 7 and 9 p.m. on Sunday because it was the safest time to remove the vehicle and not impede traffic, said the BC Milk Marketing Board.
“Specialized equipment is needed to upright the truck and tanker to save it from being a complete loss.”
It was one of the last wrecked vehicles to be removed from the highway, which was littered with dozens of vehicles abandoned throughout last week.
Consequently, tow services were extremely busy, according to employees at several tow-truck companies in Abbotsford.
MSA Towing received around a dozen calls alone, according to Kirpal Banwait, a manager at the company.
“[On Jan. 17], there were 30 [abandoned] cars between Chilliwack and Abbotsford,” Banwait said. “We drive by and we can count them easily. You can see them all over.”
Dwayne Robertson works at F & W Towing with his brother Frank. He says his brother was working non-stop as soon as the extreme weather conditions set in.
“Off the highway [we retrieved] probably a dozen and a half [vehicles],” Robertson said. “But I mean, we [were] pulling people out of everywhere, all throughout the city, for the whole week.”
In the period from Jan. 3 to Jan. 19, 70 per cent – 32,412 out of 46,095 – Dial-a-Claim calls to ICBC came from the Lower Mainland.
Robertson said safety is a big factor when towing wrecked vehicles off the highway. While they try not to block a lane when retrieving a car, sometimes it’s unavoidable.
“If it’s a bad spot, we’ll have another truck there, kind of as a blocker,” he said. “We all want to go home at the end of the night, right?”
— Ben Lypka (@BenLypka) January 17, 2020