Three vehicles were damaged when this rock slide came down on Highway 3 west of Keremeos early Monday afternoon. RCMP say one woman was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The highway was expected to remain closed in both directions overnight while crews assessed the stability of the slide prior to clearing the debris. (Carl Tymm photo)
Emergency crews were called to the scene about 12:25 p.m. after a slide threw dozens of large boulders, some the size of a pickup truck, across all four lanes of the highway, completely blocking the route.
The highway was expected to remain closed in both directions overnight as officials assessed the stability of the slide before determining when heavy equipment could start removing the boulders and debris from the roadway.
The slide also disrupted electrical service to about 1,500 homes and businesses in Keremeos and Hedley. A FortisBC spokesman said power was restored to most customers within a few hours, although the lights remained out at about 170 homes in Keremeos until late afternoon/early evening.
RCMP Const. Lesley Smith said three vehicles were damaged by the slide and one woman was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Carl Tymm of Penticton was among those motorists turned back by police at the slide scene.
"I tried to get closer (to take photos) but they wouldn't let me," he said. "They said it was still an active slide and apparently there were still little rocks coming down."
Tymm said one car was sitting afterwards at the side of the roadway with a heavily damaged front end at the west side of the slide. He was told two other vehicles were on the opposite side.
A fresh scar on the rock face overlooking the north side of the highway was clearly visible.
"I looked at it and I thought: 'Holy cow, I'm glad I didn't go through there at that time,'" he said.
Tymm said he and another motorist opted to drive up the narrow, twisting Hedley-Nickel Plate Road to Apex and onto Penticton. He said the back road was in good condition.