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UPDATE: Merritt couple victims of Highway 5 collision with commercial truck

Mounties examining driving behaviour of truck driver leading up to collision
RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)

Mounties are shedding more light on a head-on collision that claimed the lives of two people travelling on Highway 5 Saturday, Dec. 2 south of Little Fort.

Cpl. Mike Moore, media relations with BC Highway Patrol, said the collision occurred at about 10:45 a.m. in the northbound lane between a commercial truck and a car.

“Initial investigation points to the commercial vehicle entering the oncoming lane, where it struck the oncoming car,” noted RCMP.

“Tragically, two occupants of the car were pronounced deceased at the scene … Initial investigation is focusing on the driving behaviour of the commercial truck leading up to the crash.”

Family has identified the victims as Gordon and Amber Bjorkman, of Merritt, B.C. The couple was travelling to visit family in Clearwater when the collision occurred.

BC Highway Patrol is asking for anyone who may have witnessed this crash, events leading up to the crash or who may have dashcam video to contact BCHP Clearwater at 250-674-2237 and refer to file number 2023-4801.

Merlin Blackwell, mayor of Clearwater, said this latest fatality on Highway 5 is something no family should have to go through.

“Everyone in Clearwater is connected - everyone will feel this for the local family affected. This problem has become very, very personal for everyone in our community,” Blackwell said of Highway 5 safety concerns.

“First moderate snowfall of the season and we have fatalities. The RCMP is focused on the driver of the commercial vehicle involved. Nothing seems to have been learned from last year’s tragedies as far as driver behavior.”

Blackwell and Barriere mayor Ward Stamer have a meeting scheduled with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure next week.

“We need to tackle key issues like maintenance or closure of detour routes, adjustable speed zones, long-term highway improvements. We need action, not talk.”

Usoff Tsao, TNRD Director for Area A, offered his condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, and also voiced his frustration over another fatality on Highway 5.

“[The] CVSE blitz is over and it seems some people’s mentality gets switched back to speeding as usual. We need more law enforcement presence on our highway not just for optics but also to investigate incidents like this.”

BC Highway Patrol – Clearwater has conduct of the investigation.

READ MORE: Update: Fatal collision claims 2 lives on Highway 5 south of Little Fort