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Vancouver Island firefighters involved in crash that closed highway

Officials say the driver suffered a medical emergency that led to the crash

Three Vancouver Island firefighters were involved in Thursday’s crash on the Trans Canada Highway in Saanich that closed the highway and delayed traffic during rush hour.

The accident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. as the three firefighters — Comox Fire Rescue assistant fire chief Jim Lariviere, captain Corey Brooks, and Hornby Island fire chief Doug Chinnery — returned from a conference in Victoria.

Dashcam footage of the event showed the truck violently swerve across two lanes before striking the concrete barrier that separates oncoming traffic, causing the vehicle to flip onto its side.

On Friday morning, Comox fire chief Gord Schreiner said the cause of the medical emergency is still undetermined.

“They left Victoria around 4 pm and not too long later, the driver — who happened to be Corey — had a medical issue of some sort,” said Schreiner.

“We’re not sure what it was but it caused him to blackout. He lost control of the vehicle, it bounced off a few things and rolled over.”

READ MORE: Vehicle rollover closed Trans Canada Highway in Victoria

Schreiner said Lariviere and Chinnery were transported to Victoria General Hospital after the crash, where they were assessed and released the same day. Brooks was kept overnight for physical testing at Royal Jubilee and is expected to be released this morning.

Schreiner said none of the three were physically injured.

Brooks has been with Comox Fire Rescue since 1995. According to the department’s website, he spent 13 years as a paid-on-call member before becoming a full-time member in 2008.

Schreiner estimated Brooks is in his 40s and said it was surprising he would suffer a medical emergency.

“Corey is a very fit individual and works out pretty much seven days a week,” said Schreiner. “Real high-end athlete, very competitive, very fit. It was very surprising for him.

“You probably wouldn’t find a more athletic or fit person, so we’re not exactly sure what’s going on. We just hope it’s not too serious.”

Schreiner said Comox firefighters are subject to regular medical assessments and nothing has indicated issues with Brooks before.

“…nothing has ever shown up in his screening we’ve done,” he said. “It was a bit of an unusual event. Whether it was something he ate… He’s not a drinker. It’s strange, could have been a heart episode.”

The crash resulted in the highway being closed in both directions between Helmcken Road and McKenzie Avenue, forcing gridlocked drivers to wait in long lineups or find alternate routes to the West Shore.

Though Schreiner hasn’t seen the vehicle except for photos, he believes the Comox fire vehicle involved in the crash is most likely a write-off.

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