The 54-year-old man killed in a devastating crash in Nanaimo was extremely safety-conscious, making his death all the more tragic, according to family members.

Cliff Bishop was driving on the Trans-Canada Highway south of Nanaimo early Monday when a vehicle driving south in a northbound lane of the highway collided with him.

Police said moments before it happened, a Nanaimo RCMP officer attempted to pull the truck over near Harewood Road and 10th Street but the driver allegedly failed to stop.

Officers later came upon the crash on the Trans-Canada Highway, with one witness describing the scene as looking "like a bomb went off."

Both Bishop and the driver of the pickup truck were pronounced dead at the scene.

"He was 54 years old and he's been driving trucks since he was 18," said Bishop's niece Melanie Mercer. "For the highway to take his life after not being his fault, it is very, very sad."

Mercer said her uncle was such a safe driver that he was awarded a safety certificate for his job as a long-haul trucker.

"He was always careful, he was always safe, he wouldn't go without a seatbelt, that was his thing," she said. "We're just boggled the highway took him the way it did when it was totally out of his control."

The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.'s police watchdog, is now investigating to determine whether actions or inactions of RCMP led to the deadly crash.

Neither the IIO nor RCMP are saying why the officer attempted to pull the truck over.