EDMONTON - At least eight people were killed this weekend in crashes in the northern half of the province, where flurries and icy patches led to treacherous road conditions.
Four adults were killed in a head-on collision Saturday morning southeast of Beaumont. The occupants of a Saturn Ion were killed instantly around 11 a.m. when they hit an icy patch on Highway 21, crossed the road and slid into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer.
The driver and passenger of the tractor trailer was uninjured. RCMP aren’t releasing names of the victims until they contact the families.
A second deadly crash happened Saturday morning on Highway 881, about 140 kilometres north of Lac La Biche. A woman was killed when her pickup truck collided with two freight trucks. It was the third fatal collision on that Highway in as many days, police said.
Alvin Brockman was one of the first motorists on the scene. He said he saw black smoke from a kilometre away, then “a huge, huge bonfire” when he reached the mangled pickup truck. A logging truck was engulfed in flames in the middle of the road, while a fuel truck carrying diesel had toppled into a ditch.
Brockman said thousands of litres of red-dyed diesel fuel spilled on the highway and soaked into the snow. He ran through the snow to get around the fire, then found the driver of the diesel truck covered in blood from a lacerated scalp. The driver of the logging truck suffered a broken leg and possible internal injuries in the crash, and was carried away from the collision site by a small group of passersby who fashioned a makeshift stretcher.
Police arrived “pretty quickly,” said Brockman, who volunteers with a search-and-rescue group in Lac La Biche. It took nearly an hour for EMS to arrive from Lac La Biche and Fort McMurray. The woman was from Lac La Biche and died before he arrived, Brockman said. RCMP have not released her name.
Treacherous conditions prompted RCMP to caution drivers against travel for most of the weekend on Highways 63 and 881 and other Highways between Edmonton and Fort McMurray. Accumulating snow worsened traction on roads that were already icy, Const. Chris Clark of Lac La Biche RCMP said Saturday. Black ice was also a problem.
Snow, ice and wind also caused a number of vehicles to lose control on Highway 63 north of Wandering River in northern Alberta, where a number of larger vehicles had to pull off the road, RCMP said.
More than 10 centimetres of snow fell in some locations, with Edmonton receiving considerably less. Snow-plow operators were kept busy, but the accumulation in the city was not likely enough to warrant a seasonal parking ban. Edmonton police reported 262 collisions between Saturday morning and Sunday evening, with 20 injuries and 59 hit-and-runs.
Randy Loyk, the technical services manager for the Alberta Motor Association, said calls from distressed motorists increased throughout the day, with waits for service calls exceeding 90 minutes.
Two other fatal collisions this weekend weren’t attributed to weather.
Two drivers were killed early Friday evening in a head-on crash between a pickup truck and an SUV on Highway 766, near Eckville, about 45 km west of Red Deer.
The 46-year-old driver of the truck, a man from Benalto, was ejected from the vehicle and isn’t believed to have been wearing a seat belt. The 30-year-old driver of the SUV, from the Condor area, was buckled in but died from fatal injuries.
In Edmonton, a 27-year-old man was killed early Saturday morning after he ran a red light at 132nd Avenue and 127th Street.
The man, who was driving a stolen car, hit a bumper of an SUV driving in a different direction, then spun out and hit a large wooden post at the corner of the intersection. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a seatbelt and police believe speed was a factor in the crash.
The driver of the Nissan was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.