Shannon Smith using accident to call for increased safety measures to rock bluffs at 3 Valley Gap

Revelstoke resident Shannon Smith calls for improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway at the 3 Valley Gap rock bluff after being injured and having her car totaled by falling rocks.

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Shannon Smith's SUV was totalled by a slide of debris and trees while she was driving east through 3 Valley Gap on the TransCanada Highway. Photo: Shannon Smith.

Shannon Smith has travelled the highway along 3 Valley Gap three times since having her car totalled by falling rocks and debris from the sheer cliffs that line the road. Smith has sat white-knuckled in the passenger seat each of those times while her husband, Ian, drives.

“It’s easier to go out of town than it is to come back. Coming home you’re against the rock bluff and you can’t quite see anything,” Smith said in an interview with The Mountaineer.

Smith suffered a compression fracture of her 12th vertebrae and muscle and nerve damage as a result of the accident. Her husband saw the entire accident through his rear-view mirror.

“The look on his face will forever haunt me, he didn’t know what he was going to find,” said Smith, who noted she is lucky to be alive.

The stretch of highway that starts just west of the 3 Valley Gap resort runs for a few hundred metres. As any motorist who travels the stretch often can tell you, there are often rocks the size of baseballs and even bigger littering the shoulder of the road. They’ve cannonballed down the cliff and slammed onto the highway.

Shannon Smith says she knows mesh netting is only a band-aid solution but thinks it’s better than nothing. Photo:Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Smith is using her experience to advocate for road improvements along the notoriously dangerous part of the Trans-Canada Highway. Smith wrote letters to Revelstoke City Council, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok, BC Liberal party leader candidate Todd Stone, and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena.

Revelstoke City Council discussed Smith’s letter at their meeting on Tuesday, November 28. Smith asked council to request the Ministry of Transportation look at putting up a mesh on the rock bluff where the accidents took place. Council plans to send a letter to the B.C. government asking for improvements to the road.

Clovechok planned to read Smith’s letter during a meeting of the BC Legislature on October 29.

“This morning I got a call from Doug and said it was perfect timing to get my letter. He asked permission to use my name and letter in front of parliament to ask about the highway in 3 Valley Gap in particular and when they plan to do something,” said Smith.

Smith is hopeful the responses from city council and Clovechok might lead to improvements on the highway through 3 Valley Gap. She remains frustrated about what happened. Three other vehicles were also hit by rock and debris on the same day Smith’s car was hit.

“My grandfather helped construct that part of the highway. He used to always say the chutes for the rock bluff were not done properly and there should have been a snowshed there,” said Smith, who was born in Revelstoke.

Putting up a mesh netting on the rock-face is only a band-aid solution but something is better than nothing, said Smith.

“I feel like there’s a reason I came out of this the way I did,” she said. “Maybe at least we can get some attention brought to it.”

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Melissa Jameson
Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com