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Three crashes, one deadly, close Malahat

A motorcyclist died after a head-on collision with a pick-up truck on the Malahat Sunday evening near the Shawnigan Lake turnoff
RCMP spokesman Darren Lagan said driver behaviour is thought to be the cause of all three weekend crashes.

A motorcyclist died after a head-on collision with a pick-up truck on the Malahat Sunday evening near the Shawnigan Lake turnoff, capping off a weekend of serious crashes on the oft-maligned stretch of road.

The collision occurred about 8:15 p.m.

A northbound motorcycle, driven by a 40-year-old Victoria man, appeared to cross the centre line, colliding with a southbound GMC Sierra which was pulling a 30-foot trailer, according to Westshore RCMP spokesperson Const. Alex Berube.

He said the name of the motorcyclist who died at the scene has not been released but that his family has been notified.

The three occupants of the pickup truck were taken to hospital with unknown injuries.

“Speed and driver pattern on the part of the motorcyclist are being examined,” said Island District RCMP spokesman Darren Lagan on Monday. The road was closed for a time and reopened at about 1 a.m.

It was the third serious crash to close the Malahat in less than 48 hours and Lagan said he couldn’t recall a weekend with similar casualties. “Not in recent memory,” he said.

The second incident occurred early Sunday morning when a single-vehicle crash shut down the Malahat’s southbound lanes.

About 5:30 a.m. the 15-year-old unlicensed driver of a Volkswagen Golf lost control of her friend’s car and crashed on the highway near Finlayson Arm.

The teenage driver and her two teenage passengers — all from Nanaimo —were seriously injured but they are not believed to have sustained life-threatening injuries.

“Speed is being considered as a primary factor to be examined,” Lagan said. “There were serious injuries to people in that vehicle.”

The highway was reopened shortly after 8 a.m.

On Saturday morning first responders were called to the Trans Canada Highway near Goldstream Park for a two-vehicle crash which ultimately closed the Malahat for about four hours.

It was the first incident of the ultimately deadly weekend.

“The collision involved two passenger cars, a southbound Honda Accord and a northbound Volkswagen sedan,” said Westshore RCMP watch commander Cpl. Baden Jones, noting there were two occupants in each vehicle.

“All four occupants involved were transported to hospital to be assessed by medical staff for varying degrees of injury, Jones said.

The highway was closed until about 1 p.m.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that alcohol and behaviour on the part of the driver of the southbound Honda may be factors in this crash.

“Alcohol is being considered as a factor,” Lagan said. “Not determined fully yet but being considered as one of the factors.”

A 27-year-old Duncan woman is facing impaired driving charges related to that crash.

The first wet weekend of the season, weather is not believed to have played a role in any of the incidents.

“It would appear that the driving behaviour, whether that involves alcohol or speed, appears to be the primary factor in the crashes,” Lagan said.

He said police understand the frustration of significant delays for motorists when the Malahat is closed.

“These were all serious injury, one being a fatal, crashes and with the dynamics that are involved in those crashes and the investigation that’s required by the courts to lay a charge in the eventuality that that happens, we’ve got to make sure they’re done properly and those take time,” Lagan said. “We understand that it’s an inconvenience for people but it must be done.”

Given the location of all three incidents, detours weren’t possible.

“It was really challenging to detour and then once the congestion builds up it makes it very difficult to turn vehicles around.”

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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