Skip to content

ICYMI: Squamish couple troubled by ICBC and trucking contractor’s response after car crash

A couple involved in a Sea to Sky Highway crash with a FortisBC contractor is dismayed by the care they’ve received since the incident. ICBC and contractor Surerus Murphy say they are following up to address their concerns.

In the early morning of Feb. 12, Squamish couple Sarah Wheatley and Denis Courchesne were on their way to the airport for their first vacation together. 

Wheatley’s sister, Kieran, was travelling with them to take the car home once the couple was dropped off.

But the three of them barely made it out of Squamish before they were involved in a serious car accident.

Near the viewpoint a few kilometres south of the Shannon Falls intersection on the Sea to Sky Highway, they collided with a driver for Surerus Murphy Joint Venture who attempted a U-turn but stopped in their lane before completing it. The company, Surerus Murphy, is a contractor with the FortisBC Eagle Mountain to Woodfibre pipeline project.

The three of them survived, as did the other driver. 

Yet, Wheatley said they were taken to Squamish General Hospital and treated for major whiplash and multiple injuries and that her sister was transferred to Lions Gate Hospital, where it was revealed she fractured her back. 

Wheatley called it a “miracle” they weren’t injured more, estimating it took first responders 20 minutes to remove her sister from the back of the car and onto a stretcher. 

Since the incident, however, Wheatley and Courchesne say they have been dismayed by the difficulties they have gone through with ICBC and the physical, mental, and financial toll placed on them. 

Moreover, Wheatley worries about other incidents like this happening with the current and upcoming addition of workers on big projects in Squamish.

Both ICBC and Surerus Murphy told The Squamish Chief that they intend to address concerns with Wheatley and Courchesne, among other measures.


Wheatley said they’ve spent at least $1,000 for a car rental, plus other expenses like counselling, all out of their own pocket.

“The out-of-pocket expenses are worrying. I've learned a lot about the new no-fault system, which unfortunately does not take the bigger picture into account. … Denis can't work. I'm going to have to cover us financially, but I'm not in a position to do [so],” Wheatley said through tears in an interview with The Squamish Chief.

Lauren Champagne, an ICBC spokesperson, wrote to The Squamish Chief on March 15 that anyone injured in a crash is pre-approved for numerous rehabilitation treatments for the 12 weeks following the crash, including acupuncture, chiropractic, kinesiology, massage therapy, physiotherapy, counselling, and psychology. After 12 weeks, Champagne said ICBC works with a customer’s care team to access services that will help them recover “as much as possible to their condition before the crash.”

However, Champagne noted that if direct billing is unavailable, then customers will need to pay for treatment upfront and then get reimbursed. Champagne said they aim to reimburse expenses within one week.

Wheatley said they recently had to stop going to counselling because they couldn’t afford the out-of-pocket expense anymore, as many counsellors don’t offer direct billing. Only in the last few days, about a month after the crash, has direct billing been set up for the car rental, said Wheatley in an email to The Squamish Chief on March 13.

Both Wheatley and Courchesne said they are still physically struggling, unable to complete typical housekeeping tasks. A carpenter by trade, Courchesne has remained unable to work because of injury. Wheatley’s sister had to put starting a new job on pause.

Although ICBC offers income replacement up to 90% for those making under $109,000, Wheatley and Courchesne said they were told they needed to use employment insurance and sick days first. Champagne confirmed customers need to use sick days or disability coverage first.

“This has always been the case for income replacement benefits,” she wrote.

But Courchesne said it was unfair to have to use sick days first, as now he won’t have any to use if he gets sick later.

“Who’s going to be there paying for my sick days?” he said. “I wish ICBC could be more helpful that way.”

Champagne wrote ICBC will be following up with those involved in this crash to ensure their concerns are addressed.

Ultimately, Wheatley said they’re fortunate to be in a place, with help from family and friends, where they can advocate for themselves, but the process shouldn’t be so difficult.

“There are people that end up much worse off for something that wasn’t their fault,” she said. “And they can’t fight for themselves, and you have to.”

Surerus Murphy and FortisBC

Since the crash, Wheatley said she is concerned about the influx of workers and drivers who may not know the highway very well, as Surerus Murphy is an Alberta-based company. 

According to FortisBC’s website, Surerus Murphy is responsible for the gas pipeline component of the Eagle Mountain to Woodfibre Gas Pipeline project. Other contractors are responsible for the tunnelling below the Squamish Estuary. Construction for the project began in 2023.

Wheatley said since the accident, they have had some communication with Surerus Murphy, who has provided “very basic assistance” but no significant actions. She said they have asked about financial assistance and await their response.

However, Wheatley said communication with FortisBC has been very minimal.

Michelle Harries, a spokesperson for Surerus Murphy who responded to an inquiry from The Squamish Chief, said many workers are residents of Squamish and they strive to be a trusted neighbour.

“We were involved in an incident that has caused harm to others and this goes against everything we stand for, as never harm is one of our core values. As we look forward, we are committed to responding to those involved in this incident with integrity, supporting them in ways that help them live their daily lives with ease during their recovery,” she wrote.

Harries also wrote the incident has been a catalyst in providing local education and awareness to employees about safe driving and the importance of speaking up as a passenger if they feel something is unsafe. Company-wide, they have reinforced expectations of safe driving and discussed the incident and driving expectations at a recent company town hall.

Regarding FortisBC, spokesperson Jill Drews wrote to The Squamish Chief in an email that the company is planning a roundtable for contractors to discuss road safety and learnings from the incident. Additionally, they are committed to identifying steps to ensure such incidents can be avoided in the future.

Moreover, she outlined some steps Surerus Murphy has taken, adding to the ones listed above. These include the company being in touch with those involved in the crash, providing additional wayfinding resources to help employees reach sites more easily, and increasing buses and shuttles for employee transportation.

Recently at a District of Squamish council meeting, District staff reported that about 180 FortisBC workers live in Squamish, and another 100 are expected by June or July. 

FortisBC proposed a worker accommodation on Mamquam Forest Service Road, which would be accessed via a Sea to Sky Highway intersection. The accommodation needs a final permit from the District of Squamish to go forward. FortisBC’s website states the accommodation would house, on average, 300 workers, peaking at 600 in 2025 summer.

The Squamish Chief asked FortisBC about safety considerations at this particular intersection, but the response did not directly reference this intersection. 


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks