A 31-year-old Abbotsford, B.C., man was killed early Thursday morning after being struck by a snowplow as he walked along a road parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway.
According to police, the man's vehicle had veered off the highway and he appeared to be headed toward a gas station to seek help, when he was struck by a pickup truck equipped with snow-plowing equipment.
The man was transported to hospital where he later died of his injuries.
'A very, very dangerous circumstance'
Const. Scott McClure, who works with the Abbotsford Police department's traffic enforcement program, said the incident occurred at a time when light was low, visibility was poor and a recent dump of snow had forced pedestrians off sidewalks and shoulders onto roads. Abbotsford is located near the Canada-U.S. border, about 65 kilometres southeast of Vancouver.
"Operating (a snowplow) when the sun hasn't fully risen yet, it's dark, the snow is there and you're already pushing a bunch of snow off to the side of the road — it's obviously going to make visibility very, very poor," McClure told CBC.
A man is pictured walking during a period of snowfall in Abbotsford in 2023. Police say pedestrians have been forced onto the roads by the weather. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
"It just makes for a very, very dangerous circumstance, which unfortunately has turned tragic in this specific case."
According to police, the driver of the snowplow remained at the scene and is co-operating with the investigation. Police say the vehicle was privately owned and not contracted by the city.
"Impairment is not believed to be a factor in the crash, with inclement weather and snow likely being contributing factors," police said in a news release.
Evaluate whether travel 'is really necessary'
McClure said the sudden accumulation of snow can turn streets and roads into treacherous terrain for pedestrians.
"A lot of sidewalks haven't been plowed. We're also seeing roads that don't have sidewalks at all," he said.
"As a result, we're seeing a lot of pedestrians get pushed to the street, which is obviously very, very dangerous for pedestrian traffic."
McClure said police are concerned about the ability of drivers to navigate the ice and snow already on the road, not to mention freezing rain expected in the coming days.
"What we really want is people to evaluate is whether travel under these less than ideal circumstances is really necessary," he said.
"We want to make sure that we don't have another tragedy like we did this morning."