One dead in high-speed crash, fire in Peace Arch Park at U.S.-Canada border

Smoke is seen at the Peace Arch Park along the U.S.-Canadian border on Thursday, May 2, 2019.
Smoke is seen at the Peace Arch Park along the U.S.-Canadian border on Thursday, May 2, 2019. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

One person is dead after a two-car collision and fire that closed the Peace Arch border crossing at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 2, U.S. and Canadian officials said.

North Whatcom Fire and Rescue firefighters assisted Surrey (B.C.) Fire Service units at the scene, said North Whatcom Division Chief Henry Hollander.

“There was a high-speed motor vehicle incident on the other side of the border line, but before the (Canadian) inspection booth,” Hollander told The Bellingham Herald.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Chad Greig told The Herald that a Porsche Cayenne SUV and a Toyota Sienna minivan collided about 100 yards north of the U.S.-Canada border.

He said the driver of the Sienna died at the scene and the driver of the Porsche was taken by ambulance to a hospital with injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

Both drivers were men, Greig told The Herald.

Greig said no further information about the crash was immediately available and that the investigation was continuing.

The Bloomington Fire Department shows how firefighters and other first responders use the Jaws of Life to extricate people from a wrecked vehicle after an accident.

He asked anyone with information about the incident, especially dash-cam video, to call Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 or www.solvecrime.ca.

Jason Givens, spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the port of entry remained open for travelers from Canada, but British Columbia Highway 99 was closed north of the crossing for several hours.

U.S. Customs authorities weren’t involved in the incident, Givens said.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials asked northbound to use the nearby Blaine truck crossing at Pacific Highway, or the border crossings in Lynden and Sumas, because the Peace Arch crossing into Canada would be closed indefinitely for the investigation.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported online about a high-speed crash that caused a minivan to burst into flames.

Firefighters from North Whatcom Fire and Rescue were dispatched at 11:32 a.m. to an “expanded traffic collision” at 123 Second St. in Blaine, which is Peace Arch State Park, according to the emergency service app Pulse Point.

Radio conversations on police and fire channels discussed an “MVA (motor vehicle accident) with fire and entrapment.”

Smoke was visible on a live camera feed from Canadian border authorities, while traffic cameras from the U.S. side appeared to show law enforcement blocking the road after the crash.

Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.