A woman crawled to safety after her Jeep was crushed by a five-ton truck Wednesday afternoon in a devastating three-vehicle collision in South Surrey.
Two men – including a 77-year-old passenger and his son, 39 – were airlifted to hospital, with the older man, originally considered in critical, life-threatening condition, listed in serious but stable condition at Peace Arch News press time Thursday.
The crash occurred at the intersection of 24 Avenue and 176 Street around 2 p.m. Exactly how it happened remains unclear.
According to one witness, the large commercial vehicle was heading northbound on 176 Street when it struck the injured men’s older-model Ford F150 pulling westbound into the intersection.
Eyewitness Blake Ponuick said the impact of the collision – which occurred “20 feet in front of me” – caused the commercial truck to jackknife, flip over the Ford and land on its side on a third vehicle.
“It flipped through the air and landed on top of the Jeep,” the South Surrey resident said.
A second witness said the commercial truck was eastbound on 24 Avenue when it struck the southbound Ford. The commercial truck “went right through the red,” said Shantelle Healey, who was northbound on 176 Street approaching the intersection when the crash occurred.
“He hit him head-on, flipped and landed on that black (Jeep),” Healey said. “It was pretty scary… so surreal. Two seconds later, it could’ve been me.”
All three of the vehicles came to rest on 24 Avenue, sending debris across the roadway. The Ford’s front end was destroyed by the impact; the front of the Jeep was crushed under the weight of the commercial truck.
The Jeep driver scrambled out the back of her vehicle. The truck driver had to climb through his passenger-side window.
A helicopter landed on 176 Street to take the two men in the Ford – which bore a ‘City of Surrey contractor’ sign – to hospital. The two others both walked away from the collision and were treated and released from hospital.
Surrey fire Capt. Reo Jerome said that while it is unclear what caused the crash, there is no doubt the drivers who walked away had luck on their side.
“We just know there’s some fortunate people, especially the girl in the (Jeep),” Jerome said, noting it was fortunate a child seat in the Jeep was not occupied at the time of the crash.
Jerome noted the Ford driver was speaking to firefighters at the scene. The passenger was not.
Ponuick said he was waiting to turn left onto 176 Street from 24 Avenue when events unfolded. He immediately ran to the drivers, going first to the Ford. The driver was conscious, “completely disoriented” and pinned by the steering wheel, Ponuick said.
The driver’s father was hunched over in the passenger seat, he noted.
Ponuick said he told the driver not to move, checked on the other drivers and called 911.
Healey, too, checked on the Ford’s occupants. The older man was “bleeding heavily from the head,” she said.
South Surrey resident John Hutton said he raced to the site after learning one of his company’s cargo trucks was involved. Hutton owns Westcoast Moulding and Millwork, and said his driver was coming to the end of his shift when the crash occurred.
He said his driver is a newer employee, in his 20s, and one of about five drivers on shift Wednesday. The driver was “pretty shook up,” Hutton said, describing the crash as “a nightmare.”
“I hope and pray they’re alright,” he said of the airlifted men.
The area was closed to traffic for the rest of the day.