When Arrowsmith Towing employee Garrett Knocke arrived at the scene of a two-car collision on the Alberni Highway last Saturday night, he wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing.
“I didn’t think it was going to be like this,” Knocke said of the 1991 BMW sedan, which crossed the path of a Dodge Dakota pickup on rain-slicked Highway 4 near Little Qualicum River Falls Provincial Park shortly before 8 p.m. “Trent (the dispatcher) told me it was ripped in half, but I didn’t think literally ripped in half. We’ve had some where they’ve been bent, almost in half. But nothing like this.”
The most surprising thing of all, to both Knocke and the RCMP officers who responded to the scene, was the the driver, who was from Nanaimo, got out of the remaining front half of the car and walked away without serious injury.
The two pieces of the vehicle rested this week in Arrowsmith Towing’s wrecking yard, just metres from the crumpled remains of a Chevrolet Citation that had been rear-ended by a semi-truck on Highway 19 three days earlier.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve never seen a car sheared in half from a collision,” said Bert Girard, owner of Arrowsmith Towing.
Knocke said Arrowsmith Towing returned to the scene the following morning to collect the rear passenger door and other parts flung off the road by the force of the impact.
The BMW was traveling westbound, police said. A witness told Knocke the driver moved into a passing lane to go around another vehicle when it “started fishtailing” and crossed in front of the pickup, travelling easbound with two people from the Qualicum Beach area.
The pickup struck the dark-blue BMW just behind the front passenger door and took the back end off as it continued down the roadway. The BMW’s driveshaft separated from the transmission and the rear axle, gas tank and frame were a crumpled mass that Knocke said, “doesn’t look like a car anymore.”
The front of the vehicle, however, particularly the driver’s side to the rear wheel well, was left in almost perfect condition.
“You could still get parts from this,” Knocke said, indicating the open hood.
The passenger in the pickup truck was hospitalized overnight with what was reported to be a broken ankle. Otherwise, there were no major injuries in the incident.
Days later, Girard was still mystified at the way the BWM separated on impact. He contrast the damage with the Highway 19 collision earlier in the week, when the semi barreled into both the aforementioned Citation and a Chevy pickup truck.
“I’ve seen a lot of things here,” said Girard. “You look at that pickup, and the bed was ripped off the back because of the weight and speed of the impact by the semi.
“But ripping a car in half like that, that is definitley unheard-of, no question.”