hree women from Nanaimo are dead, and five people injured after a motor vehicle crash Sunday on the Malahat Drive.
Rob Patterson, chief of Malahat’s Volunteer Fire Hall, said the crash happened at about 11:30 a.m. during a two-vehicle cross-over along a non-median section near Whittaker Road.
The rain-soaked highway reopened at about 5:30 p.m. after being closed in both directions as police re-routed traffic along Shawnigan Lake Road.
“It’s the worst [fatality] I’ve ever attended,” said Patterson.
A Honda SUV, with five people, crossed the centre line and struck a northbound Chevrolet pickup truck containing three people, Patterson said.
Identities of all eight people have yet to be released, but Shawnigan Lake RCMP confirmed Monday that all three victims, including the female driver, 31, a 20-year-old woman and one female teen, 16, who died in the Honda SUV are from Nanaimo.
One man, 20, who was ejected from the Honda by the impact was rushed by ambulance to Victoria General Hospital and remains there in critical condition.
A six-year-old girl from the Honda, plus a truck passenger, were airlifted by medivac helicopter to Victoria hospital.
Patterson referred to the crash area as NASCAR Corner with vehicles travelling at high speeds.
“The Chevy driver put his truck in the ditch to avoid the oncoming vehicle, but was unsuccessful,” Patterson said. “The Honda SUV four-door was torn in half when it crossed the line and hit the truck.”
That happened just north of Whittaker where the highway narrows into one lane “and everyone jockeys for position to get ahead of people,” he said.
First responders – including the lead Malahat hall, and backup crews from Mill Bay’s hall – plus police and paramedics attended the crash that closed the busy highway for about six hours.
Two sets of Jaws of Life were used to remove people from the wreckage.
“Most people have never seen anything like this,” said Patterson. “This is the worst we’ve had.”
Investigators were analyzing the crash’s cause. Witnesses are asked to call RCMP at 1-250-748-5522.
– with files from Chris Bush