Two motorcycle riders were hospitalized after a chain-reaction collision Thursday on the Pat Bay Highway at the spot where road crews were installing a safety measure aimed at minimizing crashes on that stretch of road.
The crash was initially reported by police as a motorcycle rear-ending a truck, which had rear-ended a car that had stopped for a road crew near Claremont Road, at about 12:20 p.m. on Thursday.
While police now say the vehicle wasn't stopping for the road crew, and driver inattention and a congested highway is to blame, the Ministry of Transportation confirmed crews were working at that spot on the highway.
"Sensor loops were being installed in the road," a spokesperson with the ministry wrote in an email to the News.
One day prior to the accident, a $3 million safety improvement project was announced, including new acceleration and deceleration lanes at Sayward Road. The sensor loops were being installed as part of the first safety measure: a 'congestion ahead' sign, near Claremont Road.
A 47-year-old male motorcycle driver from Parksville and his passenger, a 43-year-old woman from Courtenay, were thrown from their Harley Davidson in Thursday's crash, after braking hard to avoid a GMC Sierra pickup, which had rear-ended a Toyota Matrix.
The northbound motorcyclists where thrown onto the road and under the back of the Sierra, police say. The drivers of the Sierra and the Toyota, residents of Metchosin and Saanich, were not injured.
The collision is still under investigation by Saanich police's traffic safety unit. Alcohol is not considered a factor in the crash.
While installation of the electronic 'congestion ahead' sign was to happen solely at night, the ministry spokesperson said: "… if there will only be minor delays to traffic, work is done during daylight hour; the improved visibility makes it safer for workers and the travelling public."
– with files from Edward Hill