Seven dead in northern Alberta highway crash
Seven people died and two more were seriously injured Friday afternoon during a crash on a busy stretch of highway between Edmonton and Ft. McMurray.
The head-on crash, which RCMP called "horrific," occurred on Highway 63 near the rural community of Wandering River.
"Right now I can confirm that the head-on collision between two pick-up trucks," RCMP Const. Christian Wilkins told CTV News Channel.
She said six people had died, but that was later raised to seven. Two others are receiving treatment in Edmonton hospitals with serious injuries.
The injured include a 34-year-old man and a young boy. Both were listed in serious condition upon arrival at hospital.
A photo from the scene showed that the crash nearly destroyed both vehicles, and Wilkins said that "there was a significant fire as a result of the impact."
A teenaged girl was pulled from one of the burning trucks by a passerby before emergency crews arrived, then airlifted to hospital, but she died from her injuries.
"Certainly the weather conditions and the road conditions were likely a factor, but none of that has been confirmed, it's just what I can see from my own eyes," Wilkins said.
One of the vehicles was heading northbound and was attempting to pass when it collided with a southbound vehicle, she said.
The northbound truck had three people inside, while the southbound pickup was carrying six people.
RCMP in the area had asked motorists to avoid travel on the highway because of poor visibility.
Highway 63 will be closed for another five hours.
The highway is often considered among the most dangerous in Alberta, with many fatalities recorded on the road.
From 2001 until 2005, more than 25 people died on the highway and 257 others were injured. During that time, 1,000 crashes were recorded.
In 2010, volunteer firefighters from Wandering River stopped working the road because the number of accidents was simply too high.