Mounties say a multi-vehicle collision Tuesday night was fatal and has closed a stretch of the Queen Elizabeth II Highway north of Airdrie.
RCMP said around 10:10 p.m. police responded to a crash that had upwards of 20 vehicles involved. The crash took place on Highway 2, north of Veterans Boulevard at Highway 72 in Rocky View County.
Police confirmed one person died as a result of the crash. Nine people, from different vehicles, were also injured and transported by ground ambulance to nearby hospitals for various non-life-threatening conditions.
Airdrie RCMP, an RCMP collision reconstructionist, EMS and area fire departments remain on scene as of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Police said a preliminary investigation determined a commercial vehicle including a trailer, along with five sedans, four pickup trucks, three SUVs and a passenger van were involved in the crash.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, though primary factors appear to be weather and road conditions, police said.
Vehicle fires were also reported to have happened as a result of the crash. It’s unclear how long it took area fire departments to douse the blaze.
One northbound lane of Highway 2, starting at Veterans Boulevard, remained closed as of 11:30 a.m. and motorists are advised to expect delays throughout Wednesday morning. Traffic was being diverted north through Highway 567.
RCMP said travel along southbound Highway 2 remains open at a very slow pace; however, officers are diverting traffic near Highway 72 and Highway 806.
Due to “intense fog, icy road conditions and changing weather patterns that are dramatically impacting the ability for motorists to see,” Mounties are asking motorists to not travel in the area if they don’t have to.
“(This would) allow for first responders to attend to those who require assistance,” the news release said.
Witness says fire was ‘scariest part’
Mike Crampton was driving north of Airdrie when he came across the collision.
“As we came to a stop, the cars were all there and the emergency crews were arriving,” Crampton told Global News.
“Emergency vehicles coming from everywhere… The fire was the scariest part.”
Crampton said as emergency personnel started to arrive, he noticed most of the people whose vehicles were involved in the crash, stuck around near the gas station.
“Then there was another crash on the 2A on the way home… If it had been five minutes earlier, I would have been right in the middle of it,” he said.
The man said “really thick fog” was in the area at the time, and it was tough to notice other vehicle’s taillights. At one point, he was following a car but then lost track of the lights — he believes that car ended up in the multi-vehicle pileup.
Another witness, who was working at a nearby gas station, described hearing a loud crash at around 10 p.m. They said following that noise, all they could do was watch helplessly as vehicles continued to pile up.
“The first thing we saw was the cabin of the semi-truck was caught on fire and huge flames were coming out of it,” Yadnesh Thakurdsi told Global News on Wednesday.
“The next thing I saw was people walking in, some of them were crying, then I witnessed a gentleman with marks and cuts on his face.”
In a news release issued at 11:30 a.m., RCMP said they had one northbound lane on Highway 2 reopened. Traffic was starting to move through at a slow rate.
Police said no further updates about the crash are anticipated for the day.
For the latest road conditions, police said to look at the 511 Alberta website.