Fatal crash leaves many questions

Tragedy struck on the Victoria Day weekend here when a late-night car ride turned deadly.
A single-vehicle accident that occurred on Couchiching around 3:05 a.m. on Sunday claimed the life of the driver, Curtis Joseph Brown, 42, of Fort Frances, and a passenger, Krista Turcotte, 24, of Thunder Bay, Ont.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other passengers in the eastbound vehicle, Michael Anderson, 23, of Fort Frances, and Heather Morrisseau, 16, of Couchiching were injured.
The car was travelling between 110 and 140 km/h when the driver failed to negotiate a turn on Highway 11 near Jourdain Crescent, Fort Frances OPP said.
The vehicle entered the north ditch and rolled over, travelling about 200 metres before coming to rest, police added.
It is unclear what the four were doing in the car that night or where they were headed, but Fort Frances OPP Cst. Caroline Spencer did confirm the vehicle did not belong to the driver.
“It’s just a tragedy,” she said. “I was at the scene and it was just a tragedy. Any loss of life is always tragic for family, friends, and the entire community.”
Anderson, who was ejected from the vehicle, was airlifted to Thunder Bay Regional Hospital for injuries to his lower body, including at least one broken leg.
He was said to be in stable condition at last report after reportedly undergoing surgery for internal bleeding on Monday.
Cst. Spencer could not confirm or deny whether Anderson or Turcotte were wearing seatbelts. She did confirm Brown was wearing a seatbelt, though incorrectly.
Morrisseau, who was wearing a seatbelt, suffered injuries to her nasal cavities and was taken to Winnipeg, where she underwent surgery.
She is coherent and remembers what happened, though she is still in shock, according to Christine Jourdain of the Couchiching fire department.
Jourdain, who also is an economic development officer for the band, was called to the scene shortly after the accident.
Turcotte, in her second year of aboriginal nursing school at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, was doing her nursing placement as the assistant to the nurse at medical services at Couchiching—in the same office as Jourdain.
Jourdain had been at the scene for about half-an-hour before she was told one of the victims was her friend.
“It’s a devastation to our community to have our 24-year-old girl gone,” said Jourdain. “She was just a wonderful friend to all of us here. She was the heart of all the girls here.
“If we were sad, she’d bring us up, if we were mad, she’d make us happy.”
Jourdain said the corner where the accident occurred is a dangerous one, and that at one time there were guard rails there. She is unsure why they were removed, and is planning on doing what she can to have them re-installed.
She also is working with fellow co-workers Aimee Adams and Dianna Singleton to set up an aboriginal nursing bursary in Turcotte’s name as well as a trust fund for her eight-year-old daughter, Jayde.
“It’s certainly a shock,” said Jourdain. “We’re struggling through here. We’re just trying to get it through here that alcohol and speed do not mix.”
Though Jourdain said alcohol was a factor, police were unable to confirm or deny that at this point.
Brown, a local native artist, had been staying at the Rainy Lake Hotel for about the last month. Joan Struch, who works at the front desk there, remembered seeing Brown late Saturday night.
“I saw him come in here at about 2:35 a.m.,” said Struch. “He came down from upstairs, walked into the door, then unlocked it, and left.”
She continued to watch from the front window after Brown left because there was a problem with minors being outside. A group of them came in, Brown among them. Struch looked over and saw a young girl.
“I told them they couldn’t be here,” she said. “Curtis just looked at me and then they left out the back door.”
Struch added she did not see Turcotte with the group.
Brown is survived by two children, Jenny-May, 14, and Braidy, 12, who both live in Saskatchewan.
“He will be missed very much,” said Brown’s mother, Emma Geyer. “He was a well-known portrait artist, spiritual in his beliefs, devoted to his family. He was a very friendly person, he loved life.”
The accident remains under investigation.