Malahat driver lucky to be alive, can’t forget Monday’s near-death crash

Mitch Wright and girlfriend sore, unscathed after their VW was hit when a Chev crossed the centre line, sparking another median review

Mitch Wright was fortunate to walk away from the wreckage of his Jetta following a crash that closed the Malahat Monday night.

Mitch Wright knew his car was going to hit the Chev Cavalier coming sideways toward his VW.

But he had no time to react.

“Honestly, we didn’t have a chance to see anything coming,” the Ladysmith resident said of Monday’s 5:20 p.m. crash on a dry Malahat Drive. “We saw the car in front of us literally at the last second — it was there then we hit it. There wasn’t even time to have your life flash before your eyes.”

Then came the bang that totalled Wright’s northbound 2004 Jetta north of Whittaker Road.

“The other (southbound) vehicle was hidden by the big Slegg Lumber truck, that’s why we did see anything until that vehicle was in front of us. The Cavalier was trying to pass (the southbound truck) on the right, clipped it, then fired toward us,” Wright said of the Chev driver’s move where pavement narrows. “I’m not sure if I even had time to hit the brakes. I just thought ‘We’re going to hit this car’,” said Wright, 39.

UVic staffer Wright, and his 28-year-old girlfriend, are suffering aches and pains with a week off work, while RCMP investigate exactly why the wreck happened.

Meanwhile, the government is doing some investigating of its own.

Monday’s collision, and the Malahat’s triple fatality in October, prompted Tuesday’s order by the transportation minister for a design review of the crash site area.

“Following the fatal accident in October, we prioritized this section of Malahat for further review. This most recent incident has moved this up in our timetable,” government spokesperson Kate Trotter said. “The Malahat Highway Safety Review, released in March 2012, didn’t recommend any immediate short-term improvements to this section of highway. In light of recent incidents, we’re revisiting that.”

A consulting firm will be hired to figure out the design and engineering, at an as-yet-to-be-determined cost. Rock bluffs, embankments and other considerations are likely to make engineering any improvements difficult.

Wright thanked his lucky stars things weren’t different Monday.

“We’re pretty sore, but a lot went right for us to escape,” he said. “A millisecond more, and we could have been dead; the other driver could have been dead too.

“He obviously made some bad decisions to make this accident happen.”

Preventing bad choices is why Wright backs fire chief Rob Patterson’s demand for the Malahat’s dangerous stretches to get concrete medians next.

“This driver put his life and others drivers’ lives at risk. A median would have kept him in his lane — other people in the southbound lane would have been affected, but we wouldn’t have hit him.”

“Once the impact happened, I knew I wasn’t badly hurt,” said Wright, a Cowichan Search and Rescue volunteer with first-aid training.

“I didn’t have any initial pain and asked my girlfriend if she was hurt. Then we thought ‘Let’s get out of this vehicle.’ We both exited from the driver’s side because the other car was sandwiched against our vehicle.”

He checked his girlfriend’s condition while witnesses arrived on scene.

“Then I ran back to try and check the other driver,” he said of the 31-year-old Sooke male, taken to Victoria hospital with head and limb injuries. “I could hear he was conscious and groaning, but I couldn’t get to him. I wanted to tell him help was coming. I could see him in the wreckage.”

Remains if the 2003 Cavalier were later cut away by Malahat firefighters using the Jaws of Life.

Meanwhile, Wright can’t shake the memory of his first big accident.

“I won’t lie; I’ve been reliving the mental trauma of it.”

 

Just Posted

Caps fall to Clippers in Nanaimo on Friday night

Clippers’ tying and winning goals come in less than a minute

Cowichan school district approves women’s winter shelter

The Cowichan Valley School District’s board of education has approved in principle… Continue reading

North Cowichan is Canada’s hot spot on Wednesday

The Warmland lives up to its name

Ladysmith Secondary School improv still groovy after 20 years

Catch performances Nov. 15th, 16th, 17th and 22nd, 23rd and 24th

New Coast Guard radar boosts marine traffic monitoring off B.C. coast

Six radar installations set up for Georgia Strait to Queen Charlotte Strait to Prince Rupert

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

Most Read