A driver of a big rig escaped with minor injuries after the semi-trailer truck he was driving left Hwy 2 and slammed into nine new vehicles at a car dealership in Innisfail early Wednesday afternoon.
Const. Chris Warren of the Innisfail Integrated Traffic Services said just before 2 p.m. an unloaded semi-trailer truck pulling a flatdeck trailer was travelling south on Hwy 2, south of Hwy 54, when it swerved off the highway into the ditch and over an embankment before ploughing into nine 2012 trucks and cars on the Palliser Chevrolet Ltd. dealership lot in Innisfail.
The male driver from Manitoba was taken to Innisfail Hospital and was expected to be released from hospital soon.
Dealership owner Mike O’Dwyer and his staff were inside the dealership office when they heard “a boom and crash like thunder.”
“We came out and there was calamity everywhere,” said O’Dwyer. “It was just a mess. Nobody got hurt. Can you imagine if these vehicles hadn’t been here and it went through to the building?”
O’Dwyer said the lot usually is filled with shoppers browsing for new vehicles on a given day but fortunately there was no one near the vehicles.
Nine of the 17 new vehicles — eight trucks and one car valued at roughly $40,000 each — were lined up on the lot near the highway were damaged. O’Dwyer could not give an estimate of the overall damage, which included two overhead lights and the lawn on the dealership.
Christa Lamboo, manager of the Super 8 Innisfail, north of the dealership on Hwy 2, witnessed the derby style collision when she glanced out the window facing the dealership while doing some paperwork.
“I looked up and I saw him coming off the highway,” said Lamboo. “I saw him just flying. Then there was crash and dust. That was it.”
Lamboo said the hotel’s elderly maintenance man was mowing the lawn near where the driver went off the highway.
“(The driver) just missed him about (30 metres) 100 feet away but still close enough,” said Lamboo, noting the worker was just a little shaken but not injured.
“He came over and said, ‘Holy cow, that guy got awfully close,’” said Lamboo.
The incident remains under investigation. Warren said alcohol and weather conditions were unlikely causes. A medical condition may be a contributing factor.
“At the time there was light rain,” said Warren. “The roads might have been a little bit wet but it should not have been any sort of factor that would contribute what has occurred here considering the seriousness or the lack of control of the vehicle.”