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‘It was horrible’: 4 people killed, 6 injured in southern Alberta highway crash

4 people killed, 6 injured in southern Alberta highway crash
WATCH ABOVE: Four people were killed in a crash on a southern Alberta highway on Friday. As Demi Knight reports, the collision was between a pickup truck and a passenger van.

RCMP say four people were killed in a highway crash east of Lethbridge on Friday.

The two-vehicle collision happened on Highway 36 near the town of Taber, Alta., just after 7 a.m.

According to RCMP, the crash was between a southbound pickup truck and a northbound passenger van.

Video shows air ambulances on highway at site of fatal crash near Taber, Alta.
Video shows air ambulances on highway at site of fatal crash near Taber, Alta.

In a Friday afternoon update, RCMP said the 31-year-old driver of the pickup truck, a man from Saskatoon, was killed in the collision.

Investigators also said the driver of the van, a 26-year-old man from Camrose, died along with two passengers; a 25-year-old man from Edmonton and a 29-year-old man from Medicine Hat.

The six other passengers of the van were still in hospital, RMP said.

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Southern Alberta emergency crews respond to a fatal crash on Highway 36 near Taber on Jan. 10, 2020
Southern Alberta emergency crews respond to a fatal crash on Highway 36 near Taber on Jan. 10, 2020 Global News

Two of them suffered life-threatening injuries, one was in serious condition and the other three were in non-life-threatening condition, according to the RCMP.

Semi-truck driver Leon Schreven arrived at the scene at about 7 a.m., just minutes after the crash happened and before emergency responders got there. He was headed home to Coaldale after spending the night in Vauxhall.

He told Global News police managed to get all other vehicles away from the crash site, but because he couldn’t safely back up his semi-truck, he was forced to sit and wait, watching as first responders worked on the scene in front of him for hours.

“When I came there it was still dark so I couldn’t see much, but when daylight came in, it was horrible,” Schreven said.

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“I could see the van, but that was on the good side of the van. Later on, I saw when they towed away the van, I saw the other side and that was not a pretty sight at all. The other side was gone from that van. So I can only imagine what actually happened there.”

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Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10.
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10. Contributed/Leon Schreven
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10.
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10. Contributed/Leon Schreven

Schreven said the pickup truck was also “totalled.”

“This is not what you see every day… [I’ve seen crashes but] not that bad where people die, especially not in this amount — I mean four people dying and six wounded,” Schreven said. “Yeah, you don’t see that every day. I’m glad I don’t see that every day.

“I woke up this morning and I didn’t think I would see this, what I witnessed today. I gave my wife this morning an extra hug when I came home.”

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Schreven said being a truck driver, he travels a lot of highways and collisions like this serve as a reminder not to take safety for granted.

“Yes, I’m driving down a highway — you know what time you’re going from home but you never can say when you’re coming home, or if you’re coming home,” he said.

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“That’s not only for me as a truck driver, that’s for anyone in traffic.”

Schreven said RCMP let him drive away from the devastating scene at about 2 p.m.

Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10.
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10. Contributed/Leon Schreven
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10.
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10. Contributed/Leon Schreven
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10.
Emergency officials on the scene of a fatal highway crash near Taber, Alta., on Monday, Jan. 10. Contributed/Leon Schreven

Belectric Canada Solar would not confirm whether any of its employees or vehicles were involved in the crash, but the company issued a statement saying it “offers our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and co-workers of all those impacted by today’s tragic events.”

“Belectric will be offering counselling and support to our employees, contractors and service providers,” managing director Christine Lewington said in the emailed statement.

“We will support our contractors and service providers as they assist the RCMP with their investigation.”

Both STARS Air Ambulance and Halo Air Rescue were called to the scene.

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For several hours, traffic in the area was being diverted along a 10-kilometre stretch of Highway 36 as RCMP investigated. Shortly before 3 p.m., RCMP said Highway 36 had been fully reopened to traffic.

RCMP said the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

READ MORE: Taber, Alta., man crushed by hay bale in critical condition

Taber is located about 50 kilometres east of Lethbridge, and about 250 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

– With files from Demi Knight and Silvana Benolich