VANCOUVER — British Columbia's transportation minister says the company whose truck slammed into a North Vancouver overpass on Tuesday, snarling traffic for hours, has had the license for its entire fleet suspended.
Rob Fleming calls the crash and other similar incidents this year "outrageous" and says there will likely be a criminal investigation into the latest case since the driver fled the scene.
Fleming says authorities suspended the licences of all 21 trucks in the fleet of a company he identified as "Whistler Courier Services."
No firm of that name could be found, and a person who answered the phone at a company called Whistler Courier said they could neither confirm nor deny the firm's involvement.
Fleming says it's the 10th time this year an overpass has been hit, and the province has stepped up efforts to "get that down to zero," with measures including heavy fines and clearance-checking tools for mobile phones.
RCMP say a transport truck hauling a large, square container slammed into the overpass on Tuesday, creating traffic havoc on Highway 1 that lasted into early Wednesday.
Police say the driver fled after the crash that wedged the tarp-covered box underneath the Main Street overpass of Highway 1, buckling the flatbed trailer supporting it.
Fleming says the suspension of the trucking company's fleet will not be rescinded until after the investigation and a safety audit is completed, and the firm complies with any directions.
He says while the punishment may seem harsh, it is appropriate given the damage to infrastructure.
"In this instance, we've imposed really the strongest deterrent that we could," Fleming says. "It will send a message to the industry, there's no question about it. This is going to cost this company significantly. They will be doing no business for a period of time while they're under investigation."
Fleming says the province will introduce stiffer fines for truck violations this fall to prevent similar strikes from happening.
A statement from North Vancouver RCMP says they issued a $368 ticket to the company that owns the transport truck because its driver failed to remain at the scene of an accident.
Engineers have determined the overpass is structurally safe and the eastbound lanes of the highway reopened at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday, while an investigation by North Vancouver RCMP and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement unit continues.
Data on the Ministry of Transportation website show there have been 23 cases involving trucks colliding with bridges or overpasses in B.C. since December 2021.
No one was injured in the latest collision.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2023.
Chuck Chiang, The Canadian Press