Drivers experienced a terrifying scene on Hwy. 4 Thursday afternoon as a tree crashed onto the road in the middle of congested traffic. (Photo - Lance Desilets)

Drivers experienced a terrifying scene on Hwy. 4 Thursday afternoon as a tree crashed onto the road in the middle of congested traffic. (Photo - Lance Desilets)

UPDATE: Construction on Hwy. 4 halted after tree crashes into traffic

Trees are being cleared along the highway between Port Alberni and the Tofino-Ucluelet junction.

Construction work along Hwy. 4 has been suspended after it caused a tree to crash onto the highway where it collided with vehicles on Thursday afternoon.

Trees are being cleared along the highway near Kennedy Hill as part of a roughly $38 million improvement project, being split between the provincial and federal governments, to increase the safety of a curvy 1.6-kilometre stretch of road.

“The incident today on Highway 4 was extremely unfortunate and we are relieved no one was injured. The ministry would like to thank travellers for their patience while crews confirmed everyone’s safety and then worked to remove the tree and reopen the highway,” a spokesperson for B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told the Westerly News.

“Construction activities are suspended while the ministry investigates the incident with the construction contractor. Once we have more answers, an action plan will be developed to ensure no further incidents.”

West Coast resident Lance Desilets was heading over the highway when the incident occurred and said he was roughly 15 metres from where the tree came down.

“I actually heard the trees coming down before I saw them,” he said. “I had my window down and i could hear crashing over-top of me and then, all of a sudden, there was tree rolling down the hill and landed half on a lady’s car in front of me and a camper in front of her.”

He added he wasn’t sure if it was one tree that came down and broke into pieces as it crashed onto the road, or multiple trees.

“The two cars in front of me got hit…It hit two different vehicles and the two different vehicles were spaced apart quite a ways. It happened so fast it was really hard to tell exactly if it was just one tree that broke off or if it was two separate trees,” he said. “It was terrifying.”

He added the road was “jam-packed” at the time as drivers had been stopped at the start of the construction zone, roughly 14 kilometres from the Tofino-Ucluelet junction, and had recently been waved through.

“They turned the sign to slow and we slowly started driving up the road…There was a lineup of 50 cars probably and I was one car away. Literally 50 feet from [the tree],” he said. “There’s no way that they should have been logging up there while traffic was still going by.”

He said no injuries occurred, but the two vehicles were damaged and one of the drivers was clearly “shaken up.”

Desilets said he travels over the highway about once every two weeks and the experience has him worried about the safety of that commute. He noted this is the second accident caused by the construction work within the span of a week as, last Thursday, rock blasting work sent a boulder crashing into a B.C. Hydro pole causing an eight hour power outage on the West Coast.

“That makes you think,” he said. “We’ve got to drive back and forth there a bunch of times, they better have their stuff together. They better get it together.”

The tree caused the highway to closed temporarily, but it was open again around 1 p.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)
Masso and Wenstob receive 2020 Rainy Coast Arts Award

Tla-o-qui-aht brothers share Pacific Rim Arts Society honour

Pamela Evans gazes lovingly at her four-year-old French bulldog Jack on Thursday, Nov. 5. The energetic young pup has regained his usual rambunctiousness after recently recovering from a significant illness brought on by consuming discarded cannabis new Brown’s Beach in Ucluelet. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Discarded cannabis a “frequent” threat to pets in Tofino-Ucluelet

“I couldn’t grab him fast enough to get it out of his mouth before he swallowed it.”

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
Four Alberni schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

Exposures occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25 depending on the school

A lightning strike destroyed a radio repeater on Porter Mountain, shutting down the Ministry of Transportation and infrastructure’s highway cam at Sutton Pass. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure photo)
Lightning strike shuts down camera on Tofino-Ucluelet highway

“One of our radio repeater sites was recently struck by lightning.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read