Alberta RCMP have confirmed the three people killed in a fiery crash near Cereal, Alta., on Tuesday were all from Saskatchewan, and Global News has learned two of the victims were a well-loved couple from Saskatoon.
Three adults were killed and 10 other people injured when at least 10 vehicles — including two semi-trucks hauling fuel — crashed in a construction zone along Highway 9 in central Alberta. In addition to the three people killed, two were critically injured and airlifted to hospital, and eight others were either treated at the scene or taken to local hospitals.
Nanfang Zhao and Qiaoqin Yang were seen embracing at the crash scene on Thursday morning. The Saskatoon couple made the journey to pay their respects to their friends who died.
The couple, who did not want to release the names of their friends who were killed, said they were well-known and heavily involved in the Saskatoon Chinese community.
“We knew them almost 20 years,” Yang said through tears.
“On behalf of the Chinese community, thanks for their contributions to the community. We are so sad to hear the bad news. We all love them and remember them, we just pray God to bless their kids.”
Yang said the couple had two children, one of whom was injured in the crash and remained in hospital.
RCMP confirmed on Thursday evening that the couple had an adult daughter who was one of two people airlifted from the crash scene in critical condition.
“We drive on this road very often. We’re supposed to be very safe,” Zhao said.
“But I don’t know what happened, maybe all the drivers should be more careful on this road. It’s a big tragedy, so many people died here and a lot of people were injured.”
The third person killed was in a separate vehicle from the Saskatoon couple and their daughter, RCMP said.
What led to the crash, which was “consumed with flames” after the semi-truck hauling fuel burst into flames, is still under investigation and RCMP say it could take months to get to the bottom of it.
Tuesday’s crash marked the second fatal collision in two weeks along the same highway stretch and within the same construction zone. A young boy was killed and four other members of this family were injured in a multi-vehicle crash on Aug. 7.
Alberta Transportation Minister Ric McIver said Wednesday his department would be investigating whether anything could be done to make the road — which is a main travel route between Alberta and Saskatchewan — safer.
“We’re concerned about the safety on every road in Alberta every single day,” he said.
— With files from Global News’ Christa Dao