Several serious — and in at least one case fatal — crashes were reported across Alberta Friday as snow blanketed the province and a cold front moved in.
Police asked motorists to check Alberta 511 before travelling for highway updates.
Large pileup on QEII north of Calgary
Alberta’s busiest highway saw a lot of traffic issues Friday.
Around 6:45 p.m. Friday, a collision was reported on the QEII northbound at Township Road 285 near Crossfield.
Just after 7 p.m., Airdrie RCMP said the northbound lanes of the highway were closed due to the crash. RCMP were not able to say if there were any injuries at the time.
An update about two and a half hours later from RCMP said the road was open again but highway driving conditions were very poor due to icy roads.
It came after around 25 to 30 vehicles were involved in a collision Friday morning just up the highway outside Carstairs.
Airdrie Rural RCMP closed the northbound lanes on Highway 2 about 40 kilometres north of Calgary for a majority of the day after the serious collision.
In a news release, Mounties said the collision happened around 11:25 a.m. on the QEII near Highway 581.
EMS confirmed to Global News a woman was driven to hospital by ambulance in serious condition. However, they said there may be more injuries.
The EMS spokesperson also said there are “a lot of stranded people” and a transport vehicle will be sent to the area. It’s unclear when the transport vehicle will arrive and who will send the vehicle.
EMS noted there was reduced visibility and icy conditions near the scene of the crash.
Melony Frei witnessed the crash and saw emergency crews rushing to the scene while on her way from Calgary to Edmonton.
She said visibility on the highway was poor and the road was “like sheer ice.”
Frei said she was stuck in her car, but was able to resume her trip to Edmonton hours later. There was a lot less snow and ice the rest of the way.
“I can see why cars couldn’t make it all the way up the hill. Most of them probably slid down it,” Frei told Global News.
“I had my knitting with me. I hung out, and listened to music and knit.”
Rick Blair, chief administrative officer of the Town of Carstairs, told Global News emergency crews were diverting people away from Highway 2.
He added the town is setting up its arena as a warming centre and emergency crews are bringing in people from the crash site.
“Our expectation is that (people) are able to arrange for transportation from here, so they shouldn’t need to stay overnight,” Blair said.
“We’re just providing a warming centre for them to get off the highway… It’s a mess out there and there are vehicles everywhere.
“(Emergency crews) aren’t able to get them out in a timely fashion.”
Blair said he didn’t expect a serious collision.
“We didn’t expect freezing conditions. It’s solid ice out there. I’m not recommending anyone to travel,” he said.
Mounties at another collision at Leduc County
The collision near Carstairs occurred after Mounties warned motorists of reduced visibility and icy road conditions elsewhere on Alberta’s highways.
RCMP were at the scene of a collision on Highway 19 and Highway 60, near Devon in Leduc County, at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Icy road conditions were believed to be factors, Mounties said. They did not say if anyone was injured in that crash.
As of Friday afternoon, traffic at that crash site was flowing normally again.
At least one dead in Parkland County collision
At least one person was killed and another seriously injured after a serious motor-vehicle collision in Parkland County, west of Edmonton.
Just before 3:30 p.m., Parkland RCMP said emergency crews were at the scene of a serious two-vehicle collision on Highway 770 and Township Road 525A, which is west of Stony Plain in the Carvel area.
Traffic in both directions was affected and officers were warning motorists of snowy and icy conditions.
511 Alberta said that scene was cleared just after 6 p.m.
Details were scarce but Mounties said an update would be issued when more information was available.
Crews respond to crash near Okotoks
Emergency crews also responded to a multi-vehicle collision south of Calgary near Okotoks.
511 Alberta announced the crash at around 1:47 p.m., which occurred in the northbound lanes of Highway 2 near Highway 552. Multiple vehicles are in the ditch and traffic is moving slowly through the area, according to 511 Alberta.
Motorists were told to expect delays.