Victims identified in multiple-fatality crash
Published Saturday, April 28, 2012 8:39PM MDT
Family and church community members confirm three out of seven people who died in a head-on crash Friday were a pastor as well as his wife and two-year-old son.
According to the reverend's father, the victims are 34-year-old Shannon Wheaton, his partner Trena and their toddler Benjamin.
CTV News is told one of two survivors from the fiery wreck is the couple's other child, Timothy. The three-year-old is said to be recovering in hospital from minor injuries.
According to RCMP, the wreck happened around 1 p.m. Friday on Highway 63, a stretch of road that runs between Edmonton and Fort McMurray. RCMP believe a northbound truck carrying three people attempted to pass another vehicle near the KM 88 marker, when it collided with a southbound truck carrying six people. Both trucks burst into flames upon impact.
Pastor Robert Parsons says Wheaton worked as a children's pastor at the Windor Pentecostal Church in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, up until a couple years ago. He describes his former colleague and fellow Newfoundlander as "a family man… someone who loved children… and gave his heart and soul to his work."
Wheaton was working as a pastor at a Pentecostal Church in Fort McMurray at the time of his death. Many people could be seen crying inside the Family Christian Centre on Saturday, where they gathered to grieve the news.
Officials say originally, three people survived the crash - a 28-year-old man, an 11-year-old girl and a young boy. The young girl was reportedly hauled out of the burning vehicle by passersby, but died from her injuries Friday evening.
Mounties now say the lone man to survive the crash is in serious but stable condition, while the three-year-old is in good condition. Both remain in hospital.
Police identify one of the other victims as a 28-year-old woman. They say two of the deceased travelling in the northbound truck have yet to be positively identified.
RCMP say alcohol and speed have both been ruled out as factors in the crash, though the investigation continues.
With Files from Bill Fortier