A tragic tractor crash Wednesday evening claimed the lives of three children in the rural Montérégie hamlet of Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge, Que.
The three victims were all reportedly under the age of five. Seven other children and four adults were also injured, five of them seriously.
The driver of the tractor, a 38-year-old man, was arrested and appeared in a Granby court on Thursday, where he was charged with criminal negligence causing harm and criminal negligence causing death. He was released on bail with conditions.
The SQ could not say whether the people involved in the crash were related.
The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) say the crash took place shortly before 7 p.m. on Sainte-Anne Road.
Ten people, as well as some pieces of wood, were reportedly being carried in the tractor’s shovel at the time of the crash.
SQ Agent Anik Lamirande says all of the people in the shovel of the tractor were suddenly thrown from the shovel, but it isn’t clear why. Police are still working to understand whether the tractor collided with another vehicle, if it hit an obstacle on the road or if it had swerved off balance.
Lamirande suggested that alcohol could have been a factor in the incident and added that it is prohibited for people to sit in the shovel of a moving tractor.
Deaths come as a shock to neighbours
Lyne Santerre, a resident from Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge, said everybody in the community knows one another. She described it as “a tragic accident.”
“We were all in shock,” she told Global News.
While police have not confirmed if the people involved are related, both Santerre and Jacinthe Girouard, who also lives in the community, described them as a family.
Girouard, for her part, said she nearly fell down when she heard about the deaths.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Girouard. “I know the family very well. They are going through something that’s not easy.”
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines, Alessia Maratta and the Canadian Press