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Mother, son-in-law killed in fiery crash in Jasper National Park
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018 10:33AM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 8, 2018 6:26PM MDT
A fatal collision in Jasper National Park has killed six people and sent several others to hospital.
The crash happened on Highway 93 at Honeymoon Lake, about 55 km south of Jasper, late Tuesday afternoon.
Gagan Sidhu, who was visiting from Surrey, B.C., was on the highway when he first noticed a dark plume of smoke.
He said two cars were in the middle of the road and had caught on fire.
“We could see two cars just starting to burn heavy in the fire,” Sidhu said.
He saw two men lying on the road "in really bad shape" and tried to comfort them.
“We were trying to engage them and keep them alive until the services arrived. Then we had to fight the fire from the burning car because it was spreading towards the trees."
He said a handful of people had fire extinguishers, shovels and blankets to try to knock down the flames.
“We were trying to give all our efforts to save the injured and control the fire," he explained. "The challenging part was there was no cell phone coverage. People were shouting to call 911."
He said based on what he witnessed, a faster response time likely wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
American tourists among the victims
Angela Elkins died in the crash. Her husband, Curtis, underwent surgery and is conscious, according to family.
Jasper RCMP said one of the vehicles involved in the head-on crash was carrying an American family of five.
CTV News has learned Angela Elkins of Louisiana and her son-in-law, Nick Copeland of Texas, died in the crash.
Elkins’ husband, Curtis, and daughter, Sarah, were taken to Edmonton hospitals in serious condition.
The Copeland’s toddler was not injured but assessed at a Jasper hospital.
Nick Copeland of Texas was killed in the crash. His wife was taken to hospital in serious condition and his toddler did not have any injuries.
The southbound vehicle had four people who were declared dead on scene. Police are not releasing information on their identities at this time.
A third vehicle attempted to avoid the crash and went off the road; the two people suffered minor injuries.
"It was a really bad thing to see. I could see people going emotional...we could see people hugging each other and consoling each other," Sidhu said.
Police said they appreciate the role the public played in this incident.
"Members of the public were enormously helpful in saving lives and helping everyone they could," Sgt. Rick Bidaisee said. "We want to thank everyone who selflessly pitched in and helped us."
Second crash in area
A second collision occurred two kilometres south of the crash scene a few hours later, at around 9:20 p.m.
AHS confirmed six people were transported to a Jasper hospital with non-critical injuries.
Highway 93 was closed between Saskatchewan River Crossing and Athabasca falls for a period of time but has since been reopened.
With files from Dan Grummett