Terrace RCMP are investigating a two-vehicle accident at the north Sande Overpass and Hwy 16 intersection, which happened metres away from where a Wet’suwet’en support rally was taking place.
At approximately 12:50 p.m. today, emergency services were called to the collision scene involving a red pick-up truck and silver SUV that resulted in both drivers being taken to hospital.
“Terrace emergency services responded with a rescue truck, as well as the fire truck just because of the fluids that were leaking at the scene,” says Terrace Fire Department deputy fire chief Dave Jephson.
“The occupant of one vehicle was still inside when we got there so we issued her safety as the most important and the second driver was good on the surface, but he is being taken to the hospital just to be checked.”
Police detoured traffic away from the collision as emergency responders worked to extract the driver out of the SUV who appeared to be in shock and was then carried out on a stretcher into the ambulance.
The accident took place as residents supporting opposition by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs of the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline marched in a circuit around the intersection. Although protesters initially set out to block the Sande Overpass, RCMP members encouraged the group to stick to the crosswalk and obey the traffic lights — which they did.
The protesters were not on the road when the vehicles collided and many immediately called 911. One man who was a part of the rally, said to have a paramedic background, quickly reacted and tended to the driver still inside her SUV. He remained with her until on-duty responders took over.
Facebook posters quickly blamed protesters for the accident but Jephson says drivers must always be cautious regardless of distractions like protests or other accidents, especially during busy periods of the day.
He emphasizes the cause of the collision is currently unknown but acknowledges both intersections of the Sande Overpass can be problematic.
But speaking in general terms, Jephson says that protests in a high-traffic area should be avoided.
“I can’t say if [these people] were a part of it but if you’re a protester anywhere and you stand in front of traffic or you stand near a road, you should understand that you could get run over,” he says.
“I appreciate the right of people to freedom of speech but again, disrupting traffic by standing in front of a vehicle or disrupting emergency services, I would caution that would be very dangerous.”
The accident scene was cleaned up by approximately 1:45 p.m. Traffic then resumed to normal.