Traffic officials investigating massive QE2 chain-reaction crash
Published Thursday, March 21, 2013 2:14PM MDT Last Updated Friday, March 22, 2013 7:01AM MDT
Hospitals, emergency crews and police from throughout the capital region called to help after dozens of vehicles were involved in a collision on the QE2 Highway near Highway 13 Thursday.
RCMP first received reports of the massive crash on the highway near the Highway 13 overpass at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.
Police said as a result of the initial crash, a number of other crashes took place - in the end, it's believed more than 100 vehicles were involved.
RCMP in the area said a bus, tractor trailer units and a number of trucks and small cars were involved.
The major highway was closed in both directions early Thursday afternoon after the collision – drivers were encouraged to use Highway 53 at Ponoka, because Highway 13 at Wetaskiwin was becoming congested.
On Thursday evening, Edmonton police said southbound traffic on the QE2 was being diverted at the Millet overpass, while investigators and traffic officials combed through evidence at the crash scene.
The QE2 reopened for traffic in both directions just before midnight.
Officers from a number of detachments, and members from the Edmonton Police Service, were called to the scene to assist.
Area hospitals accept dozens of injured individuals
Alberta Health Services communications staff initially tweeted that 300 “minor to moderate injuries” had been reported.
Later, the number of minor injuries had fallen to about 100 after crews on the scene assessed the situation; AHS said one person with serious injuries had been sent to the University of Alberta hospital in critical condition.
Three other moderate cases were taken to hospitals in Wetaskiwin, Devon, and Leduc.
Hospitals in Edmonton, Red Deer, Leduc, St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Devon, Wetaskiwin, Stony Plain, Lamont and Camrose would be accepting patients – four of the most seriously injured patients would be headed to Edmonton hospitals.
In addition, a multi-casualty incident bus was heading to the scene to deal with some of the minor injuries.
Edmonton Police said two officers were called to help deal with the massive crash - to escort ETS buses, which were being used to evacuate the injured in the crash.
In addition, the Disaster and Emergency Operations Service branch of the EPS is on standby, in case more help is needed.
Witnesses' first-hand accounts of the scene
Derek Fildebrandt was on a coach bus on the highway at the time of the crash, and spoke to CTV News on the phone from the scene.
“It was a pretty massive pileup, far bigger than I’ve ever seen before,” Fildebrandt said (the full interview can be found on the right side panel of this page). “From what I could see there were remarkably few injuries considering the scope of the accident.”
Farther north, Alison Veldkamp was stuck in traffic for more than two hours Thursday - she's trying to get to Calgary, but said she hasn't made it very far.
"It's been snowing the whole time that we've been sitting here, for the two hours," Veldkamp said in a phone interview from the road (full interview on the right panel of this page). "We really can't see much of anything, and we've probably moved about five feet.
"We've just kind of been hanging out and working on Twitter, and trying to stay updated with what's going on."
With files from Jeff Harrington and Bill Fortier