Overnight Highway 20 washout closes highway; sends one to hospital

A Williams Lake man is lucky to be alive after being swept down a steep embankment in complete darkness toward the Fraser River while travelling on Highway 20 just west of the Sheep Creek Bridge early Monday morning.

The motorist and his vehicle were swept some 500 feet down the bank after water washed out a section of the highway in the middle of the night. Early reports indicate the man managed to get himself back up to the highway for help and is currently being treated at hospital.

The victim’s employer, who does not want to be named at this time, said the victim who was swept away in the wash out described driving west for work and having the “road just disappear in front of him.”

“He’s going to be OK and that’s all I want to hear,” the employer said at the hospital Monday, adding the long time Williams Lake resident is very sore but recovering.

RCMP Cpl. Madonna Saunderson, District Advisory NCO for the North District said Williams Lake RCMP were called at 3:09 a.m. and advised of the washout, estimated to be in excess of 150 metres and approximately a half of a kilometre west of the Sheep Creek Bridge on Highway 20.

Police ask that the public stay away from the area and to not travel Highway 20 at this time.

“The road is completely washed out. Ministry of Transportation is aware of the situation and are assisting investigators,” said Saunderson.

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue and BC Ambulance also attended.

At about 8 a.m. Monday morning all that was left on scene were RCMP and Ministry of Highways.

No word at this point what caused the slide or where the water came from.

Chilcotin resident Linda-Lou Howarth said motorists traveling between Williams Lake and the Chilcotin can use the Rudy Johnson Bridge and Meldrum Creek Road as a detour, which will add an extra hour to their trip.

“People have to be aware of the cattle on the road and the deer,” Howarth said, adding that the road is quite dusty.

Todd Hubner, district manager with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said Monday they are not advising travel through the Rudy Johnson Bridge and Meldrum Creek Road detour at this point until they have assessed the route to make sure it is usuable. He encouraged the public to check DriveBC for updates.

“We have a regional geotechnical engineer coming from Kamloops who will be flying over the slide area at noon to do a site assessment,” Hubner said.

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