Three killed in blizzard crash
A spring blizzard blasted through the Prairies yesterday, killing three and causing a chaotic series of crashes south of Edmonton involving at least 100 vehicles.
A 23-year-old woman, a four-year-old girl, and a two-year-old boy were killed yesterday morning when the compact car they were in crashed head-on with a truck about 180 km northwest of Edmonton.
Mounties said it was snowing heavily at the time and visibility was poor.
The driver of the truck, a 46 year-old male, is facing several charges, including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
South of Edmonton, road conditions weren’t any better. Mounties said just before noon, multiple collisions happened within a half-kilometre of each other.
At least 100 vehicles were involved and at least 45 vehicles were damaged, noted police.
“And from that collision, we ended up getting a chain reaction, so multiple other collisions occurred from there due to the poor visibility and the icy roads,” said Cst. Karolina Malik.
About 22 people went to area hospitals, including a man with serious injuries.
The RCMP said the man was outside his vehicle after being involved in a collision and was found under a semi-trailer.
Kerry Williamson, with Alberta Health Services, said yesterday that about 80 others were treated at the crash site for minor to moderate injuries.
The crashes involved a large passenger bus and several semi-trucks.
Robert Mitchell was on a Greyhound bus at the time.
“It was like a domino effect—one vehicle after another, just smashing, smashing, smashing until about 60-70 cars,” he told CTV Edmonton.
A cattle liner carrying 74 head of cattle was involved in the monstrous crash. Police said late yesterday that the cattle were being transferred to another cattle liner.
Two cattle, however, were injured in the crash and had to be put down.
“The cattle have been in this liner since about noon today and finally they’ve gotten another liner there, and they have to get these 60-worked up cattle out and into a new one,” noted Cpl. Colette Zazalak.
A bus passenger tweeted a photo of the mayhem, calling it a massive pileup but adding everyone on the bus was all right.
“Hitchhiking my way to Edmonton via Wetaskiwin on country roads,” Derek Fildebrandt wrote in another tweet.
“Found a Tim Hortons. There is a God.”
Paramedics, EMS crews, and firefighters trudged through the snow, going from vehicle to vehicle, to check on those inside, Williamson said.
They commandeered three Greyhound buses on the highway and used them as triage centres, he added.
Police also escorted four Edmonton transit buses to the scene to provide shelter to motorists who were stranded.
STARS air ambulance had to turn down requests to ferry patients because of the bad weather, said spokesman Cam Heke.
The helicopters simply couldn’t get in the air.
RCMP closed a 60-km stretch of Highway 2—the main road between Edmonton and Calgary—and redirected traffic away from the scene.
The highway was re-opened in both directions just before midnight (MDT), about 12 hours after the crashes.
Police said “treacherous” road conditions remained on the QE II south of Edmonton, all the way to Red Deer.
“Unless travel is absolutely critical, police request the public stay off all area highways,” police said.
Mounties in Saskatchewan also issued travel warnings and closed highways due to heavy snow, winds, and icy conditions.