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Student killed in highway accident between Squamish and Whistler

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The stretch of highway between Squamish and Whistler has claimed another life.

An international student, riding as a passenger, died in a multi-vehicle accident near the Big Orange Bridge, on Friday evening, Feb. 23.

The student was killed when the driver of the southbound Toyota Matrix carrying the out-of-town student lost control and drove into oncoming traffic at about 4 p.m., according to Const. Mike Halskov of BC RCMP Traffic Services.

The driver may have been going faster than the conditions would have required, Halskov suggested.

“It is winter in B.C., and you have really got to make sure that you know what you are doing when you drive in those conditions,” he said.

The accident involved at least three vehicles, Halskov added.

One other person was airlifted to hospital in the Lower Mainland with concerns about head and possible spinal injuries.

The road conditions at the time were severe.

“The road was covered with snow and icy patches,” Halskov said.

Highway 99 was closed in both directions for approximately five hours. Sea to Sky Traffic Services and Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service (ICARS) is handling the ongoing investigation into the crash.

In November, the RCMP announced a pilot project aimed at cutting down police response times on the Sea to Sky Highway. Convened in partnership with ICARS and Lower Mainland Traffic Services, the initiative sees police fly an ICARS traffic reconstructionist via helicopter from the Lower Mainland on a case-by-case basis following major accidents on the highway.

Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes with the Whistler RCMP confirmed that investigators were not flown to the scene of Friday’s accident, instead arriving by road. He did note, via email, that Sea to Sky Regional RCMP has provided additional training to officers in scene-collision investigation so that “we are able to effectively speak with the ICARS folks at the outset of an investigation and begin some of the investigative tasks associated to serious collisions” as a way to reduce response times while awaiting for ICARS investigators to arrive.

Friday’s accident marks at least the fourth fatality this year on the stretch of Highway 99 between Squamish and Whistler.

Two Squamish men died in a crash near the Alice Lake turn off on Jan. 2, and a young man was hit and killed while he was walking on the highway in Squamish early Feb. 3.

A version of this story was originally published by The Squamish Chief on Feb. 27. With files from Brandon Barrett

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