A family of four from California was killed in British Columbia, Canada, Friday after being struck by a flat-deck tractor trailer and trapped inside their van. The tragic crash happened just after 3 p.m. on Highway 93 in the Kootenay National Park in eastern BC, west of Calgary, Alberta.
According to the Langley Times, the Howard family of Palo Alto, California, was apparently vacationing in Canada and had just crossed into the country the previous day. They were traveling in a van, which was towing a compact 4×4 vehicle, when the tractor trailer crossed the center line on an S curve and jackknifed into the path of the van.
Eyewitnesses reported that the van drove onto the shoulder of the highway in an unsuccessful effort to avoid hitting the truck. The van collided with the truck and became pinned against the roadside barriers. The tractor trailer’s fuel tanks then caught on fire and exploded, engulfing all three vehicles in fire.
Although the driver of the truck, a 40-year-old from the Vancouver, BC region, was able to escape his vehicle without serious injury, the surrounding blaze was so intense that he could not assist the van’s occupants.
“CTV has identified the occupants of the van as the Howard family, made up of Robert, 49, Ana-Maria, 50, and daughters Samantha, 11, and Veronica, 9,” the Langley Times reports.
RCMP, park staff and local fire and ambulance crews responded to the scene, and the highway remained closed until late that night as responders battled the flames and began their investigation.
Investigators found the vehicles so damaged that they had to be moved to another location for forensic analysis. Royal Canadian Mounted Police detained the driver of the truck but released him or her later Friday night without pressing charges. The crash remains under investigation and the RCMP are seeking witnesses that may help them understand why the the truck driver veered out of his lane.
Photo credit: Joshua Estabrooks/Columbia Valley Pioneer