Six people, including two American tourists, are dead following a head-on crash near Jasper, Alta. on Tuesday evening.
RCMP said the collision happened at around 5 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 93 at Honeymoon Lake. The site is located about 60 kilometres south of the Jasper townsite and five kilometres south of Sunwapta Falls.
RCMP said a van heading north on the highway collided head-on with a southbound vehicle. Both vehicles caught fire, police said.
The van was carrying a family of five that was visiting the area from the United States, police said in a media release Wednesday morning. Two of the people in the van were declared dead on the scene. Two others were taken to hospital in Edmonton with “very serious injuries,” police said. A young toddler was taken to hospital in Jasper but was not injured.
Scott said two of the Americans were from Louisiana and three of them were from Texas. They were all family members, she said.
The southbound vehicle was carrying four people, all of whom were killed.
A third vehicle that swerved to avoid the crash ended up in the ditch, police said. Two people inside the vehicle suffered minor injuries, RCMP said.
“Members of the public were enormously helpful in saving lives and helping everyone they could,” Sgt. Rick Bidaisee of the Jasper RCMP said.
Colorado resident Christina Loescher came upon the accident shortly after it happened and said bystanders, including herself and her husband, jumped in to help. She said they weren’t able to get close to the burning vehicles, but people ran to pull the pair out of the vehicle that ended up in the ditch.
“The bystanders were really amazing,” she said. “We went through the line of cars: Who had first aid kits? Who had blankets and water? … Who knows CPR?”
Loescher said the vehicle fire quickly spread to the nearby brush and forested areas. That’s when bystanders gathered fire extinguishers, shovels and even water bottles from other drivers to try to douse the flames. She said they kept watch until a helicopter equipped with a bucket arrived.
“Germans, Canadians, Americans, and there were some French speakers. I don’t know if they were French Canadians or another French-speaking country and everybody just pulled together and did a really phenomenal job. They didn’t just stand around and wait. They dove in and really took care of each other.”
The highway reopened to traffic shortly before 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. RCMP said further information will be released only if charges are laid.
Just hours later, at around 9:20 p.m., RCMP said a second crash occurred on Highway 93 about two kilometres south of the first crash site. Police said one vehicle rear-ended another.