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Updated: Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:42:35 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

B.C. rock slide survivor '2 seconds close to not being here'



Witnesses say rocks of all shapes and sizes — including boulders the size of trucks — came crashing down onto Highway 3 between Keremeos and Hedley, B.C. Brenda Engel/Similkameen New Leader

Witnesses say rocks of all shapes and sizes — including boulders the size of trucks — came crashing down onto Highway 3 between Keremeos and Hedley, B.C. Brenda Engel/Similkameen New Leader

A woman says she is lucky to have walked away from this week's large rock slide near Keremeos, B.C., after her car was crushed by a falling boulder.

Karen Searle was driving from Penticton to Vancouver on Highway 3 on Monday at around 12:25 p.m. PT when she suddenly saw rocks tumbling onto the road in front of her.

"These huge boulders — just bombing down the hill, and bouncing," she told CBC News. "You know, the momentum."

She tried to swerve around them, but her car got hung up on a rock.

That's when a large boulder crashed down on the hood of the car, setting off the airbag.

Searle had to kick her car door to get out of the vehicle.

When she looked back, she watched truck-sized boulders slam down onto the highway behind her.

Stunned and bruised, Searle could only think about whether others were in danger.

"My first thought was that I hope there was no one close behind me, because they would be underneath all that rubble and there would be no way they would have survived," she said.

Then, she said, her thoughts shifted back to her own narrow escape.

"If I had been two seconds later, I would not be here right now," she said. "I was that close, you know, just two seconds close to not being here right now."

Searle said the close call won't keep her from driving the route in the future, once it reopens.

On Wednesday, Highway 3 remained closed between Hedley and Keremeos because of Monday's large slide and due to smaller rock slides that have followed.

B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation said geotechnicians are continuing to assess the slope's stability, and it has not given a time estimate for the re-opening of the stretch of highway.

Detours are available via Hwy 5A and the Coquihalla.

Map: Approximate location of Hwy. 3 rock slide

​Source: DriveBC

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