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Two injured in Pat Bay crash near safety-upgrade site

Two people involved in a three-car crash that shut down the northbound lanes of the Pat Bay highway for hours Thursday remain in hospital with serious injuries.

Two people involved in a three-car crash that shut down the northbound lanes of the Pat Bay highway for hours Thursday remain in hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the motorcycle, a 47-year-old Parksville man, suffered severe head injuries, and the passenger, a 43-year-old Courtenay woman, has serious chest injuries. The two were thrown from the motorcycle when the driver stopped hard to avoid a crash in front of them in the centre lane. A car had stopped to avoid congestion and was rear-ended by a pickup truck. The two riders rolled onto the road and became entangled under the truck’s wheels, which caused the severe injuries. Saanich police say driver inattention is believed to be a factor.  The collision is still under investigation by the traffic safety unit and no charges have been laid. The crash took place a day after Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom and municipal politicians announced $3 million in safety upgrades to the highway near Sayward Road, where 169 northbound rear-end collisions occurred over a five-year period. The accident occurred near the site of planned congestion-warning signals just south of Cordova Bay Road. It’s hoped the flashing signals will stop people from following too close and speeding.Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff said Thursday she was disappointed motorists didn’t get the message to slow down and pay attention following wide media coverage on Wednesday of safety concerns on that stretch of highway.“It’s unfortunate because [media outlets] raised the issue about the safety concerns, and then the very next day crews are out there and boom, boom, boom — rear-ender,” she said.Brownoff said traffic studies have found the majority of accidents on the highway are the result of driver inattentiveness. kderosa@timescolonist.com— With a file from Derek Spalding