Another rock slide has closed Highway 3 west of Keremeos.
Rocks came tumbling down around 3 p.m. Tuesday, in the exact same spot that has been closed twice in the past year. Just weeks ago crews removed the rocks from those slides, reopened the road to three lanes and built a cement wall barricade. None of those things stopped the rocks from hitting the roadway.
Doug Burlingame, a trucker for Ken Thomas Trucking in Princeton, was only a few vehicles behind where the rocks came down.
“Luckily no one was hurt,” he said while standing outside his logging truck. “I stopped in Keremeos to make a call and if I hadn’t I would have made it through fine and would be back in Princeton now.”
RCMP advised the road was going to be closed for the night just after 4 p.m. There was concern the rocks would continue to fall throughout the night.
Burlingame wasn’t sure how he was going to get the logging truck backed out of where he was parked or where he was going to stay for the night.
“I guess I’ll have to leave it here on the side of the road,” he said. “Not sure if I’ll get someone from Princeton to try and come get me or just stay the night and try to get out of here in the morning.”
As the slide happened just about an hour before school closed approximately 25 students who should have been headed home to Hedley were left stranded at Similkameen Elementary Secondary School. Students from Cawston had already transferred to SESS by time word had gotten out about the slide.
“Basically we gather all the kids together and contact all their parents and make arrangements. Some of the parents come to get them and others we find places for them to stay. Everyone pulls together,” said Cate Turner, the school’s principal.
All parents are contacted for permission before a student is sent to the home of a staff member or another student.
Heather Hibbs, who lives west of the rockslide, counts herself lucky she was visiting Penticton so she was able to pick her three children up at school.
She also picked up several other students who needed a place to stay.
“If I wasn’t here my kids would be stuck here for at least the night. Last time the road was closed for five days so I’m really glad I was here for them,” she said.
Hibbs was trying to reach a friend in Cawston so they could all stay the night.
Allyson Savauer from All Safe, a traffic control company contracted by Argo, was stopping traffic headed west out of Keremeos Tuesday night.
“Most people have been really understanding. They understand it’s for their safety,” she said.