Nobody could head south out of Parksville for about half an hour on Saturday morning, when two accidents that happened within about 15 minutes of each other blocked both highways.
The accidents happened around 11 a.m., the first, involving a single vehicle on the Inland highway (19) near the Parksville weigh scale and the other a two-vehicle crash on the East Island highway (19a) near the orange bridge.
"There was no way to get out of Parksville for about half an hour, which was good for our economy," said Corporal Michelle LeBrun, after the accidents were cleared up.
The first accident involved a truck towing a trailer where LeBrun said he must have hit the bridge deck, because his trailer came around jackknifed him. There were no injuries, she said, but there was quite a bit of damage to his truck and both lanes of traffic were blocked.
Traffic was backed up from this first Parksville exit where the accident occurred to the next Parksville exit at the Alberni highway, in the southbound lane. Cars were turning around, crossing the grassy median strip which divides the opposing lanes haphazardly, to avoid waiting in the long line-up of vehicles.
The second accident happened when a woman driver was traveling northbound and attempting to turn left onto Martindale road. A vehicle was in the slow lane traveling southbound when the two cars struck.
A shopper at the Saturday market, set up meters away from the accident, said he looked up after hearing a loud noise.
"I heard a loud screeching of tires and a crash and then saw the bumper fly off," said Rich McCoy.
Lebrun said to remind people to stay in their vehicles at traffic accidents. She was directing traffic in order to allow people to head back the other direction but gave up and had to make people wait instead, she said.
"At one point I just had to stop because it was mayhem," she said. "Because people were just doing what they wanted and on top of it there were people out of their vehicles standing on the highway."
Although tow trucks may have arrived half an hour after the accidents, cars were still lined past noon.