A young woman apparently escaped unharmed after her car slid off Glenmore Road at Galiano Road in Kelowna at 8 a.m. Friday. She declined an offer of assistance from firefighters who rushed to three single-vehicle accidents on Glenmore Road.
Even professional truck drivers got caught when a small amount of snow, combined with frigid temperatures, turned roads into skating rinks.
Russ Klassen of Mission, B.C., was coming around a curve on Highway 33 by Graystoke Road, heading for Kelowna, when his Dodge pickup "went squirrelly" and he sideswiped an older Volkswagen. His pickup truck spun around and ended up on its side in the ditch, facing in the
"In the middle of the corner, (the truck) went out just a little bit. I let the gas off, it came back, and then it went drastic the other way and I was going across the road. That's when I hit him," said Klassen.
"When you hit me, I went sideways," Randy Weidman of Kelowna, who was driving the VW, told him.
"I don't know how I kept it on the road and from rolling over," Weidman said. "He was sideways, so I moved over as far as I could - not far enough - and he clipped the side of us. I didn't think it was that bad, but I got a bloody nose."
"I've never been in an accident before," said his son, Nolan Weidman. "At least he didn't hit us head-on. I didn't know what to think; it happened so fast."
As they stood on the side of the highway, waiting for police and tow trucks, they motioned, often in vain, for other drivers to slow down on the treacherous corner. Even vehicles equipped with snow tires and studs were fishtailing, and it was difficult to walk across. There was no evidence of sand or salt on the roadway, which has a 90 km/h speed limit.
"They don't slow down," said the first RCMP officer on the scene after turning on his emergency lights.
"Big White Road was unbelievably bare, (with) lots of traction," said Klassen. "On the big hill (on Highway 33), we were going really slow - 20 km/h - because there was a couple of idiots trying to pass a Chambers (highway truck) going up the hill."
He explained he shifted his truck from two- to four-wheel-drive and back while checking the traction.
"I'm a truck driver. I'm testing the road all the time. I had unbelievable traction five kilometres back the last time I tested it. It looked bare, just like this. I wasn't even close to the speed limit. I'm always driving on the cautious side."
RCMP Const. Kris Clark said a car driven by a young woman slid off Glenmore Road at Galiano Road and onto its roof at 8 a.m.. She declined assistance from firefighters who responded.
A white minivan and another vehicle both went off Glenmore Road north of McKinley Road about the same time. Conditions were so slippery on that stretch of road that police set up a check-stop and urged southbound motorists to use extreme caution.
Police had to block off Highway 33 between Gerstmar and Ziprick roads for about 30 minutes after a collision between a cube van and a car about 8:30 a.m. The truck drove through a fence at the Islamic Centre of Kelowna. The driver was taken to hospital for examination.
A downtown office worker who lives in East Kelowna said it was "quite icy on corners, curves and intersections" on the drive in, while others heading into Kelowna on Highway 97 from Penticton and Glenrosa said the highway was OK.
City officials said the temperature hovered around 0 C, creating sporadic icy spots. Road crews were applying sand and salt where required.