Squamish-based Whistler Courier & Freightways trucks are back on the road making deliveries after a safety audit that followed a bridge strike by one of its drivers on Sept. 19.
“Thank you to all our customers for your patience while Whistler Courier completed a safety audit,” reads a Sept. 27 statement emailed to The Squamish Chief and posted to the company’s Facebook page. “Our fleet is back on the road, so we are ready to take your orders again. We look forward to serving your delivery needs in the Sea to Sky Corridor, Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley.”
On Sept. 19, one of the company’s trucks struck the Main Street overpass with an overheight load, closing Highway 1 for several hours, according to North Vancouver RCMP. The driver then fled on foot after abandoning the vehicle.
The company's licences were suspended pending further investigation by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Agency (CVSE) which included a safety audit.
B.C. Transportation Minister Rob Fleming called the incident “outrageous” on Sept. 20.
“There will be a criminal investigation into the incident because the driver fled the scene,” Fleming said, adding that DriveBC has online tools that give height clearances for such structures.
“It’s never been easier to comply,” Fleming said at the time.
Fleming noted most truck drivers operate safely.
"A tiny percentage can create havoc."
North Vancouver RCMP say the owner was issued a ticket for failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
"We are supporting CVSE with their investigation," said Cst. Mansoor Sahak in an emailed statement on Sept. 28.
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said on Thursday that following CVSE’s investigation into the incident, its officers issued tickets to the company totalling approximately $3,500.
This was beyond the original ticket issued by the RCMP.
The company was also asked to submit an action plan to address all areas of non-compliance with Division 37 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations found during the investigation, as well as submit a strategy to ensure any future oversized loads would be transported safely and in compliance with the relevant regulations.
"CVSE officers also have confirmed that the necessary changes that could be made while the carrier was suspended have been completed and will be monitoring the carrier to ensure their on-road behaviour follows the company’s commitment and the relevant regulations," the MOTI spokesperson said.
North Shore resident Fernando Lessa—who often visits Squamish to capture nature photography—was on his way to a dinner reservation when the crash happened. He did not get to dinner on time.
“We spent, I think, two hours and 15 minutes stuck there,” he said.
Lessa said he was surprised and disappointed by how long it took police and crews to arrive at the scene and begin their work of opening the highway and getting drivers detoured.
“Accidents happen, but I was expecting something would happen; someone would come and organize the traffic,” he said. “It was pretty disorganized.”
Asked how he felt about the amount of the fine, Lessa was not impressed.
“That’s kind of a joke, right?” he said.
~With files from Jeremy Hainsworth/Glacier Media