The mayor of Dauphin, Man., says his community is steeling itself for difficult hours and days ahead, as residents anxiously wait to hear about the status of their loved ones.
A major crash on the Trans-Canada Highway on Thursday morning near Carberry claimed the lives of 15 people and sent 10 others to hospital. Most of the victims are seniors from Dauphin and surrounding areas.
Mayor David Bosiak told 680 CJOB’s The Start that his tight-knit city is taking it one day at a time.
“It’s not a cliche — literally everyone in this community will know somebody involved,” Bosiak said.
“It’s a whole combination of responses, both emotional and otherwise. It’s challenging, that’s for sure, I don’t wish this on anyone.”
The mayor said he visited with family members last night at Dauphin’s support centre, and many of the distraught people there have nothing they can do but wait for news.
“I guess the most troubling aspect of this situation is just receiving information, and the slow pace that comes in.
“We’re just trying to comfort the folks here as best we can, but the next few hours and the next few days are going to be the most difficult as people start to hear definitively the condition of their loved ones and whether or not they survived.
“It’s mind-boggling, to be honest with you.”
Bosiak said the city has a close relationship with local RCMP. Officers have been sharing what they can as it becomes available, but it’s essentially a waiting game at this point.
“It’s just going to be tough. It really will,” he said. “We’re trying to put all of the supports in place.
“We’ll get it all figured out eventually, … but the uncertainty is the hardest part.”
Although Dauphin has already received “amazing” supportive messages from well-wishers from across the country, Bosiak said he’s encouraging anyone who has friends or family in the area to reach out directly.
“All I can ask is if you know someone in our community, … reach out. Give them a call, send them a message, let them know you’re thinking about them, because I know that’s been tremendously helpful so far,” he said.
“It certainly will be needed over the next hours and days and weeks as we deal with this.”
Shelley Napier of Napier Emergency Consulting says it’s going to be ‘hard days’ ahead for the communities affected by the tragedy.
“Everybody’s been affected, and it’s small-town Manitoba — everybody knows each other,” Napier said.
“There’s going to have to be some grief counselling in play, there’s going to have to be a lot of talk to residents… and an understanding that this isn’t going to go away. It’s not going to be three or four days and life goes back to normal.
“Life has changed for these people, and they’re going to have to grieve and pull together.”
Napier said residents should expect a long investigation before there’s a full understanding of how — and why — Thursday’s tragic events took place. In the 2018 Humboldt Broncos crash, she said, it took months before everything was resolved.
The aftermath of that crash — in which 16 were killed and 13 injured after a junior hockey team’s bus collided with a semi — is acting as somewhat of a template for the Manitoba tragedy, in that civic leaders in communities such as Dauphin have reached out to their counterparts in Humboldt, Sask., for advice.
“The wonderful thing about Canadians — particularly in Manitoba — is in small communities, we pull together, we help each other, and that is what’s going to get people through the next coming days and months,” Napier said.
As of Friday morning, RCMP were still working to identify victims and inform relatives.
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