Vehicle smashes into abandoned motel, causing gas leak
Emergency crews responded to a vehicle crash in the southbound lanes of Highway 11, near Line 2 in Oro-Medonte Township, after a vehicle struck an abandoned motel and caused a gas leak. Area businesses were evacuated as a precaution. MARK WANZEL PHOTO
A 55-year-old Barrie man remains in a Toronto hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries, after the southbound pickup truck he was driving drove through a side wall of an abandoned motel on Highway 11 north of Barrie, Tuesday night.
Barrie OPP say the driver, Daniel Dunlop, had to wait more than three hours to be rescued following the crash due to concerns over natural gas. The truck ended up about eight metres inside the building and sheared off the gas line.
"It's very encouraging that he could have survived such an incredible crash," OPP Sgt. Peter Leon said.
The crash, which occurred around 5:45 p.m., ruptured a major natural gas line to the building, complicating rescue efforts, Leon said.
At 9 p.m., Dunlop was conscious and still in the truck, approximately 30 feet inside the building, waiting to be rescued. Leon said Dunlop was communicating with emergency crews.
Around 9:40 p.m., Dunlop was freed from the vehicle with serious injuries and was being cared for by paramedics. He was to be stabilized at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie before being airlifted to Sunnybrook hospital.
Provincial police closed Highway 11's northbound lanes at Highway 93 and the southbound lanes at the 3rd Line. Businesses along Gasoline Alley were evacuated as a precaution while Enbridge officials tended to the gas leak.
"Because of the concentration of natural gas fumes, Oro-Medonte firefighters are trying to allow for natural ventilation of the building and using a fine mist from a fire hose to bring down the gas levels before attempting to extricate him," Leon said before Dunlop had been rescued, adding firefighters broke some of the structure's windows to aid the ventilation process.
The crash opened a hole about three metres in diameter in the wall.
Sometime after the impact, a portion of the motel's roof collapsed and the weight of the truck caused the floor to collapse as well.
The building has been abandoned and boarded up for about five years, Leon said.
It remains unclear why the truck left the roadway.
"At this point, it's too early to make that determination," Leon said Tuesday night.
Traffic was rerouted around the scene.
Leon said Highway 11 was re-opened just before 11 p.m. once fire crews had cleaned up the scene.
— with files from Raymond Bowe