A local woman is dead and another in hospital battling life-threatening injuries after a serious collision on Highway 99 in Lions Bay on Sunday, Nov. 1.
While officials have not released the names of any of those involved, family has confirmed that Whistler’s Marie-Pier Champagne passed away Tuesday morning after suffering severe head trauma. She was 32 years old.
“I’m just without words. It’s such a tragic loss,” said Skai Dalziel, co-owner of Whistler Tasting Tours, where Champagne worked for the past five years since coming to Whistler from her native Montreal.
“She was amazing. She really lived life to the fullest and was just such a pleasure to be around.”
After news of her death spread, tributes from Champagne’s friends from near and far began pouring into social media.
“You were a truly amazing human being, who exuded such confidence and a love for life I have never seen before,” one wrote. “You were inspiring and your outgoing personality was infectious.”
Trained as a molecular biologist, Champagne was something of a nomad, and while working for Air Transat managed to pick up friends “from all over the world," Dalziel said.
“The first time I met (Champagne), we were illegally spirited into a Yankees game. The second time I met her, we climbed the top of a vast bamboo castle. I was instantly awestruck,” a friend posted to Champagne’s Facebook page. “In the time we were friends, I would learn that virtually everyone she met seemed to have similar stories of wonder and amazement.”
Champagne was a passenger in the Honda Civic that was involved in a two-vehicle collision during heavy rain on Sunday afternoon. Witnesses on the scene told police they observed the hatchback lose control while passing a pick-up truck. The car flipped over the median, landing in southbound lanes where it crashed into a Nissan Sentra.
At least three people were taken to hospital, including the 32-year-old driver of the Honda Civic, Champagne’s roommate, who has not been officially identified. She remains in hospital in critical condition and reportedly underwent neck surgery Monday.
The driver and sole occupant of the Nissan, a 75-year-old Squamish man, sustained minor injuries and has since been released from hospital.
Police believe speed “relative to the road conditions at the time of the incident” may have been a factor in the accident, and urged drivers to use caution during inclement weather.
"Speed limits are maximums in ideal conditions,” said Cpl. Ronda McEwen of BC RCMP Traffic Services in a release. “When the road conditions change, drivers must adjust their driving behaviours accordingly for their safety and the safety of all road users.”
Mounties are looking for any witnesses to the crash or anyone who observed the Honda prior to the collision to contact Squamish RCMP at 604-892-6100 and reference file #2015-7610.
Three other collisions were reported in the Lion’s Bay area of the Sea to Sky Highway on Monday, and all are believed to be related to poor driving conditions and speed, according to police. No serious injuries were reported.