Richmond RCMP are investigating alcohol as a possible factor in an early morning crash on Highway 99 just outside the George Massey Tunnel that killed one person and seriously injured two others.

Mounties say a southbound vehicle crossed the centre line just after midnight, colliding with an oncoming northbound vehicle with a 61-year-old Richmond woman and a passenger inside.

The 61-year-old driver was killed. Her passenger, as well as the driver of the vehicle that crossed the centre line were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The crash involved an SUV and a sedan, but police have not indicated which vehicle crossed the centre line.

People in the area say there were lane closures for roadwork at the time of the crash, which meant there was a single line moving in each direction in what would usually be the southbound lanes of the tunnel.

The configuration meant there were no barriers to stop the head-on collision once the vehicle crossed the centre line. 

“Alcohol may be a factor in the crash however the investigation is in the early stages, and all possible factors are being considered,” Staff Sgt. Quentin Frewing with the RCMP’s Lower Mainland Traffic Services said in a news release Wednesday.

The crash closed the tunnel for nearly seven hours, as investigators combed through the crash scene gathering evidence. The tunnel reopened around 7:30 a.m. 

Damage to both vehicles was catastrophic. The impact of the crash was so severe, it appeared to tear the engine from the SUV.

The name of the victim has not been released. 

Richmond RCMP are asking any witnesses or anyone with dashcam video to contacts investigators at 604-970-8691. 

Update: The Massey tunnel has re-opened to all traffic after a serious head-on crash overnight that appears to be fatal. Both vehicles involved were towed away a short time ago. pic.twitter.com/ftliesSiJO

— Sheila Scott (@Sheila_Scott) September 2, 2020