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Couple caught in massive Coquihalla pileup recount 'nightmare'

coquihalla crash-icy
Buddy Boyd and his wife were travelling to Malakwa when they were caught in icy conditions on the Coquihalla Highway.

A Sunshine Coast couple say they are lucky to be alive after surviving a collision on the Coquihalla Highway outside of Hope on Wednesday that involved at least two dozen vehicles.

“It was a nightmare,” said Buddy Boyd of Gibsons. “It was carnage like I’ve never seen before.”

Boyd and his wife, Barb Hetherington, the former owners of Gibsons Recycling Depot, were travelling to Malakwa, where they have been working on a low-waste tiny home project.

The couple were outside of Hope, heading toward Kamloops, when they encountered the sheer-ice conditions on a descent.

“As we were coming down the hill, we saw cars and pickup trucks and semis stopped,” said Boyd. At the time, nobody was behind them.

With 30 years of commercial driving experience and winter tires, Boyd was able to safely pull over the electric vehicle he was driving, but by then vehicles had begun colliding behind them.

“Before we knew it, a flatbed truck slammed into the back of us, because it got hit by a semi, and I said to Barb, ‘We better get out of here.’”

The 2020 Chevy Bolt he was driving was a courtesy car from Sunshine Coast GM, and the truck that nearly totalled the electric vehicle was carrying two Teslas.

The pair managed to flee the car and headed toward a partition on the highway to escape the ongoing collisions. As they attempted to climb over, Hetherington was hit by a truck and slammed into the cement barrier.

They still managed to slide down the embankment to take shelter as the collisions continued.

People arrived with warm clothes and they retrieved blankets as they waited in the deep snow and frigid temperatures for first responders.

The first responders were forced to use a clamshell stretcher to pull Hetherington whose hip they suspected was broken up the embankment, and used climbing ropes secured to one of the overturned trucks on the highway.

They were transported to Chilliwack General Hospital and both were released, with Hetherington suffering deep bruising on her tailbone and hip and Boyd experiencing more minor bruising.

“Even though it was just so chaotic, humanity really shone through yesterday,” Boyd said.

One man died and five people were seriously hurt in the pileup. Thirty-four patients with non-life-threatening injuries were cared for at the scene.