Pair of accidents close highways

Slippery roads caused two accidents in the region yesterday.
Dryden OPP is investigating a two-vehicle collision that occurred at 2:15 p.m. on Highway 17, five km east of Wabigoon.
An eastbound vehicle driven by Sharon Betker, 57, of Dinorwic lost control on the icy road, slid into the westbound lane, and was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by Denise Miault, 45, of Kenora, police said.
Both vans then spun into the ditches on opposite sides of the highway.
The four other passengers in Miault’s van included Merle Cleland, 57, Arlene Lantz, 59, Lawrence Whiting-Purvis, 43, and Susan Norris, 27. All are Kenora residents.
The Wabigoon and Dryden fire departments assisted at the scene as people from both vehicles had to be extricated using the “jaws of life.”
Betker, the lone person in her vehicle, was flown to Winnipeg via air ambulance, where she remains in critical condition, police said.
Miault, Cleland, and Lantz initially were treated at the Dryden Regional Health Centre before being flown to Winnipeg due to the severity of their injuries.
Whiting-Purvis was treated and released, while Norris remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The highway was closed for about four hours while emergency crews worked to free the people trapped in their vehicles, police said.
Highway conditions were very slippery due to freezing rain and slush, police noted, adding the accident remains under investigation.
In a second accident yesterday around 3:50 p.m., Highway 72 was closed for about an hour at Sun and Sand Road, south of Sioux Lookout, after a southbound vehicle struck a second southbound one while trying to pass it.
Both vehicles ended up in the ditch on the west side of the highway.
The one vehicle rolled over, trapping its driver, a 49-year-old Sioux Lookout woman, until the fire department could get her out, police said.
The driver of the other vehicle was a 40-year-old Dryden man.
Both were taken to the District Health Centre in Sioux Lookout via ambulance, where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Police are still investigating the accident but Sioux Lookout OPP Cst. Bob Neelin said icy road conditions were a factor.