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Tyax man sues B.C. Hydro and government over wife’s death

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Poor upkeep of Road 40 blamed for 1999 drowning death

A Tyax man whose wife died when their car plunged into Carpenter Lake is suing B.C. Hydro and the Ministry of Transportation and Highways for negligence in B.C. Supreme Court.

Archie Chalmers was driving with his wife Joan on Dec. 22 1999 when the accident occurred. He managed to struggle out of the car after it hurtled into the reservoir. But his wife drowned before she could be rescued.

The suit claims the accident and the drowning occurred as a result of negligence because Road 40 was not maintained sufficiently at the time of the accident.

The suit further alleges that barriers should have been erected along the roadway and that the highway and the adjacent reservoir were designed and constructed in a dangerous fashion and poorly maintained.

Road 40 is a twisty, narrow 50-kilometre stretch of gravel road long the reservoir. It connects Gold Bridge with Lillooet.

At least 11 people have died over the past 20 years as a result of cars nose-diving into the lake.

The Reservoir Safety Committee has long been struggling to get the road improved.

It has accumulated files on the road and legal opinions obtained by the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District which state that B.C. Hydro: "…is potentially liable in negligence for passengers in vehicles travelling along Road 40 given the dangers created by the existence and operation of the Carpenter Reservoir."

"The fact that a passenger in a vehicle may drown if the vehicle were to leave Road 40 and enter the reservoir is a foreseeable event.

"Any negligence on the part of B.C. Hydro in respect of the existence and operation of Carpenter Reservoir potentially creates a liability for B.C. Hydro if someone is injured as a result of that negligence."

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