All licences have been suspended for the company that owns a truck that struck a North Vancouver overpass Sept. 19, B.C.’s minister of transportation and infrastructure says.
North Vancouver RCMP say the truck driver who struck the Main Street overpass with an overheight load, closing Highway 1 for several hours, fled on foot after abandoning the vehicle.
The incident happened in the eastbound lanes just north of the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing around 7 p.m. The truck appears to have been carrying a large piece of industrial equipment.
Minster Rob Fleming Sept. 20 called the incident ”outrageous.”
“There will be a criminal investigation into the incident because the driver fled the scene,” Fleming said.
He said DriveBC has online tools that give height clearances for such structures.
“It’s never been easier to comply,” Fleming said.
In the meantime, all of the company's licences have been suspended pending further investigation that will include a safety audit, noted the minister.
“It will send a message to this industry,” he said. “It will impact this company significantly. They will be doing no business for some time.”
North Vancouver RCMP issued a release Wednesday morning stating that they had ticketed the company for failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Const. Mansoor Sahak said they chose to issue the ticket to the truck’s owner in lieu of the driver because the company has not been forthcoming about who was at the wheel.
“We don't know who it is and we're not getting details from the owner of the company,” he said.
Sahak said investigators aren’t releasing the name of the company that owns the truck but the logo of Squamish-based Whistler Courier & Freightways is on the truck's door.
In a statement, the company said it is working with the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Agency of B.C. (CVSE) as that agency investigates a bridge strike.
"While the investigation into the incident is underway our fleet is not operating. Two employees are facing disciplinary action. At this point, we expect to learn tomorrow (Thu, Sept. 21) from CVSE when operations will be permitted to resume," it said. "We’re taking steps to deliver cargo currently in our custody and scheduled through this week."
It took more than eight hours for crews to clear the truck and flat deck trailer from the scene and for structural engineers to inspect the overpass for damage and deem it safe.
The investigation remains open and North Vancouver RCMP are working with Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement, which may issue regulatory fines.
“If anybody has information on the driver of the vehicle, they can call us,” Sahak said. “And if they've got dashcam footage of the incident, definitely call us.”
Ministry of Transportation data indicates 23 cases involving trucks colliding with bridges or overpasses in B.C. since December 2021, with 10 of those collisions this year alone.
Fleming said the great majority of truck drivers are safe.
"A tiny percentage can create havoc," he said.
With files from Brent Richter