A driver lost control of a Loblaws semi-trailer early Friday morning on the Inland Island Highway, and it ended up in a ditch. A photo shows workers dealing with the flipped rig. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Loblaws apologizes after flipped semi-trailer closes North Island highway

Crew worked for eight hours to transfer groceries from overturned rig

Loblaws is apologizing to residents of a Vancouver Island community after a semi-trailer containing a load of groceries flipped on Highway 19 last Friday.

Nobody was injured in the crash south of Campbell River, but traffic was disrupted on the highway for 15 hours.

“We apologize to the residents of Campbell River for the inconvenience this caused,” said Karen Gumbs, director of public relations for Loblaw Companies Limited.

Gumbs confirmed in a Feb. 4 email that the driver of a Loblaw trailer lost control on Friday morning, “causing the trailer to flip on its side and block the Inland Island Highway.”

She said the company is “currently inspecting the contents of the trailer and based on our food safety protocols we will determine if the food is suitable for sale, donation or disposal.”

The incident caused all northbound traffic to be detoured. Meanwhile, southbound traffic was reduced to a single lane as workers transferred a shipment of groceries into waiting trailers.

READ MORE: Southbound bridge across Campbell River now seismically sound, says province

It appears that the driver of the truck “left the road, … went into the median there, tried to correct and he flopped it right over in the median and the fast lane,” said Damian Girard, road manager for Main Road North Island, which holds the provincial highway maintenance contract for the area.

The driver managed to exit the cab through the windshield, which had been smashed by the driver or possibly a firefighter, he said.

The driver was unharmed, and no other vehicles were involved, Girard said. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Girard said he was alerted to the incident at around 2:30 a.m. Workers from Main Road had a detour in place by about 3 a.m., but traffic on the highway was disrupted for about 15 hours, he said.

“We did everything we could to get the highway open as soon as possible,” he said.

READ MORE: Speed limit hikes caused more fatalities on B.C. highways – study

A crew from Coastline Towing and Transport spent about eight hours emptying the trailer and transferring the goods, said Nelson Christensen, operations manager for the Campbell River-based company.

The flipped semi-trailer contained a “full load of groceries that was destined for the Superstore” in Campbell River, he said.

“Everything had to be hand-bombed out, pretty much one package at a time, and then what we did is we stacked it all on pallets, shrink-wrapped them all, loaded them back into our trailers, and they were shipped back to the Lower Mainland to the supplier.”

Asked if it was a messy job, he said most of the groceries were in pretty good shape.

“Probably 90 per cent of it was salvaged without any loss,” Chistensen said. “There was probably a pallet of lost products, and that was it, out of the whole truck.”

READ MORE: Southbound bridge across Campbell River now seismically sound, says province

After the goods had been transferred, the company righted the truck and trailer, and then towed them both away, Chistensen said.

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Workers unload a grocery truck Friday morning after it flipped in the median, forcing the closure of both lanes northbound and one southbound lane of Highway 19. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

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