Police say a woman involved in a crash that sent both drivers to hospital and closed two northbound lanes of the old Island Highway in Nanaimo on Wednesday could have been suffering from a mental health issue.
Emergency crews were called to the scene a little after 3:45 p.m. Wednesday after a Dodge minivan and a Nissan Pathfinder sport-utility vehicle collided at the intersection of the highway and Bowen Road and Norwell Drive.
Crews on scene said one person was taken to hospital with unknown injuries. Crews didn’t have information about the driver of the other vehicle; witnesses said it appeared she left the scene.
According to police, the minivan was travelling northbound on the old Island Highway, went through a red light and collided with the SUV that was crossing the intersection on a green light from Norwell Drive toward Bowen Road. The minivan then struck a light post, went into a skid and continued over the raised median before it came to rest in the northbound lanes of the highway.
Witnesses at the scene estimated the minivan was travelling at 80 to 100 kilometres per hour when it went through the intersection.
Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said the 41-year-old woman driving the minivan left the scene following the accident.
“It appears that she was having some mental health issues … she was located a short distance away, walking,” O’Brien said. “She was apprehended under the Mental Health Act and was taken to hospital for medical assessment.”
O’Brien did not have information about possible injuries sustained by the 45-year-old Nanaimo man who was driving in the Nissan.
Police are not disclosing where the driver of the minivan was from other than that she resides in a community “up Island.”
Both northbound lanes were closed in front of Country Club Centre while crews cleared the scene.
O’Brien said it is too early in the investigation to determine what, if any, charges the woman could be facing.
The intersection is Nanaimo’s worst as far as frequency of car crashes, according to ICBC statistics.
For coverage of past car crashes in the Nanaimo area, click here.