Ontario snow squall claims one stranded motorist
Published Thursday, December 16, 2010 9:24PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:28AM EDT
A snow squall that closed a southern Ontario highway and stranded hundreds of motorists earlier this week has claimed a life, officials said on Thursday.
Neeland Rumble, 41, of Sarnia, Ont., was found Tuesday afternoon about 50 metres from his vehicle, which was stuck in a snow drift.
His father found him after he failed to show up to work at a nearby solar farm, where he worked as a security guard.
Rumble and his car were found near Ridgetown, Ont., some 75 kilometres south of Highway 402, where some 300 motorists were trapped overnight during the storm.
A coroner's report confirmed Rumble died from exposure to the harsh temperatures.
While Ontario Provincial Police say Highway 402 is now fully open to traffic, they warn travellers to exercise caution when driving through the region where hundreds of motorists were stranded this week.
According to the OPP, which co-ordinated efforts to clear the snow-clogged stretch of road, the east and westbound lanes of Highway 402 were completely reopened to traffic as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
"All queued and disabled vehicles have been safely removed from the Highway 402," police said in a statement.
The declaration ends an operation that began Monday, when motorists travelling in the southwestern Ontario region between Sarnia and London first got stuck in blinding snow.
For many of the stranded travellers, a frigid night spent shivering in their cars stretched into a days-long ordeal as weather conditions hampered rescue efforts into Tuesday morning. As the weather cleared, a combination of plows, snowmobiles, 4x4 vehicles and Canadian Forces helicopters were eventually used to ferry people from the frozen highway and into warming centres.
It wasn't until late Tuesday -- the day after the snow storm hit -- that police were able to ensure they had checked inside each of the 200 tractor trailers and more than 120 cars scattered along the highway.
Snowbound travellers still had to wait, however, as their cars and trucks were dug out and towed from the snow-swept highway.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said on Wednesday that his government would be reviewing the incident to determine what changes are necessary to "ensure these kinds of things don't happen."
With climate change expected to bring more extreme weather conditions in the future, the premier said Ontario is going to have to adjust its procedures for handling such events.
"Every once in a while, Mother Nature asserts herself and we are humbled," McGuinty said.
In its announcement Thursday, the OPP reminds motorists to exercise caution on wintry roads.
"Take the time to ensure you are well prepared for winter driving. Stay alert, slow down and stay in control."
With files from The Canadian Press and a report from CTV Toronto's Janice Golding