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Driver loses ICBC fight after car conked out on flooded Langley road

Tribunal finds driver was at fault for heading into high water
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A driver braved a waterlogged stretch of 208th Street north of Walnut Grove on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, during a series of atmospheric rivers. Other drivers were not lucky enough to make it through, including one who challenged an ICBC deductible through a Civil Resolution Tribunal. (Langley Advance Times files)

A small claims tribunal has denied a Langley driver compensation for a damaged car, after finding she knowingly drove into a flooded road during the 2021 atmospheric river.

The May 30 decision came about after the driver went to a Civil Resolution Tribunal, asking that ICBC’s finding that she was at fault and had caused a “collision” be removed from her insurance, and that she be reimbursed for her $500 repair deductible.

The incident happened on 208th Street on Nov. 16, 2021, north of the rail tracks.

The driver, according to all accounts, crossed the rail lines and encountered a flooded road, as massive storms had lashed B.C. for days, blocking numerous streets in low-lying areas of Langley and the Fraser Valley.

Resolution Tribunal vice chair Andrea Ritchie noted that there were multiple versions of what happened next, from the driver and two witnesses, including a passenger in the car.

In the version the driver relayed to the tribunal, she stopped her vehicle, but kept it running, before driving into the water. Large trucks heading along the road raised waves that swamped the car, and the engine died. The vehicle had to be towed.

However, Ritchie noted that the driver had given several other versions of the incident, including saying that there was some flooding on the road but it “did not look deep,” as other drivers and even a cyclist made it through, but her car seized up and died while driving.

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In another statement to ICBC, she said she had stopped and only the vehicle’s nose was in the water, and was trying to turn around when it seized up.

She also said she had pulled over to the side of the road near the flooding while waiting to decide what to do, and that waves from the large trucks then hit her parked car, suggesting it was water splashed into her car that caused the issue.

However, a photo taken by the tow truck driver who hauled away the driver’s 2006 Acura TL showed it was “well past the railroad tracks,” Ritchie wrote in her judgment.

“The image shows water halfway up the car’s front grill,” wrote Ritchie.

She found that the driver headed into the flooded road before the other cars started passing her.

An engineer’s report on the incident noted that the Acura TL has its air filter intake low in the engine compartment, near the level of the front bumper, and that for water to flood into the engine, the car had to have been driven into water to that height.

Ritchie found that ICBC was right to consider the damage a “collision” claim, as impacts with water are defined as collisions under insurance coverage. The driver’s claim was dismissed.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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