Princeton’s deadly backyard

Despite improvements Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton is one of the most dangerous highways in BC

They call it Highway Thru Hell for many reasons.

Princeton Highway Rescue Chief Doug Pateman has seen just about all of them.

Last week ICBC released a new report naming Highway 3 between Princeton and Hope as one of the ten deadliest roads in British Columbia with 24 fatal crashes between 2004 and 2013.

Pateman estimates approximately 85 per cent of all calls for Princeton Highway Rescue originate on Highway 3, west of town.

“We are dealing with the worst,” said Pateman, in an interview with the Spotlight. We are dealing with the worse road conditions, we are dealing with the worst scenarios and we are dealing with the worst levels of stress, at least in my mind.”

Pateman said there is an irony to Highway 3’s deadly reputation.

“Overall it’s a beautiful stretch of road,” he said, explaining that can give drivers “a false send of security, absolutely…You have a wide three and four lane highway, passing lanes and then all of a sudden they end and you come to a hair pin corner. Anywhere else in the province that’s unheard of.”

Improvements to Highway 3, made under the high risk corridor program by ICBC, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the RCMP, reduced the number of fatal crashes between Princeton and Hope by almost 50 per cent during the new study period. Eleven people were killed on the road between 2008 to 2012, compared with 20 people killed between 2003 and 2007.

Some of those improvements included the installation of   LED chevrons and curve warning flashing lights, centre line rumble strips, line painting and higher reflective signs.

According to Pateman driver error will always been the main causes of collisions on Highway.

“When a signs says ‘Slow to 50’ on any other highway you can probably do 10 over and it’s a nice comfortable corner. From Hope to Princeton if it says slow to 50 you’d better slow to 50.”

It’s also crucial, he said, to adjust to weather conditions. “If it’s wet, drive like it’s slippery, if it’s slippery, drive like it’s icy and if it’s icy stay home.”

With 24 years on the rescue squad Pateman has attended many horrific scenes, some involving local families. “I’m not going to talk about it…I have done calls that if you are lucky you only see on television.”

That is a genuine possibility, as the Hope-Princeton road is one of the featured locations for Discovery Chanel’s popular reality series Highway Through Hell, which is currently filming its fourth season.

Pateman also sits on Princeton town council, and said the proximity of the deadly road has a unique effect on the town. “You know what, it’s not great publicity but because people have seen it on TV, everybody wants to drive the Highway Thru Hell.”






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

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen compost project receives recognition

Federation of Canadian Municipalities names regional district for environmental leadership

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm have died of illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

More wildfire smoke to fill the Okanagan

The smoke is coming from wildfires in California but is expected to be much lighter

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

B.C. VOTES 2020: Wilkinson to stop 24-hour camping in city parks

Ban on ‘unsafe roadside panhandling’ to be enforced

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

West Kelowna start-up wins Emmy for virtual production on Red Bull Rampage

XR Media Group won the Outstanding Digital Innovation Award

RCMP seize guns, drugs, motorhome from Okanagan residence

Search warrant executed in relation to an ongoing investigation into drug trafficking

‘Hate will not be tolerated:’ North Okanagan mayor

City, groups speak out against racism-promoting flyers spread around town

Sound effects at play for Caravan’s Halloween event

Walk of Terror is returning, with a creepy twist

Two people injured after logging truck rolls over on North Okanagan road

Single-lane alternating traffic is in effect on Lumby-Mabel Lake Road near Birch Road

Lessons from a pandemic: How to design a nursing home that’s safe and love-filled

A look at how one care home is battling the pandemic with the social needs of the elderly in their care

Most Read