15 dead, 10 in hospital after Trans-Canada Highway crash in Manitoba

RCMP have confirmed 15 people are dead and another 10 are in hospital after a major crash on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg.

A number of RCMP vehicles surrounded the crash site Thursday. At the centre was a heavily damaged multi-passenger vehicle and a semi-truck.

carberry map

Map of southern Manitoba indicating near Carberry, where Highway 1 was closed due to a major collision Thursday. (Photo: CityNews)

The RCMP says it received reports of a crash at the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 5 at 11:43 a.m.

Mounties say a semi trailer was heading east on the Trans-Canada and a bus carrying 25 people, mostly seniors from the Dauphin area, was heading south on Highway 5 when the collision occurred.

“The bus reportedly crossed the westbound lanes of the highway and was in the process of crossing the eastbound lanes when it was hit by the semi,” said RCMP Superintendent Rob Lasson.

Lasson adds Mounties who specialize in large crime scenes and complex investigations were deployed from across the province.

“RCMP have sent every available resource to the scene,” said Assistant Commissioner Rob Hill, Commanding Officer of Manitoba RCMP. “To all those waiting, I can’t imagine how difficult it is not knowing if the person you love the most will be making it home tonight. And so sorry we cannot give you the definitive answers you need more quickly.”

“Today is a tragic day where lives have been lost in Manitoba on a large scale,” said Lasson. “We deal with very tough cases as police officers a lot … Unfortunately, death on this scale is never, never normalized for us. However, we have to kick into operational gear right away.

“Thinking about what the families need, what the investigators need, and what needs to be done here and what needs to be a priority. But that doesn’t mean we’re not feeling the pain with you. This is a very sad day for Manitobans — please know we will investigate this very thoroughly and communicate all investigational progress as this file progresses.”

Lasson notes the crash has “echoes of the tragic collision that happened in Humbolt, Saskatchewan. And we are very aware of that.”

“We have already linked into the investigators in Saskatchewan who have first hand experience and were some of the primary investigators in the investigation of the Humbolt crash are assisting us right now in any way they can,” he said.

Carberry, Manitoba crash

The scene of a fatal collision near Carberry, Manitoba. (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

Highway 1 was completely closed near Carberry for several hours. Around 3:30 p.m., officials reopened westbound traffic but noted all eastbound lanes remained closed.

“We’ve deployed a number of assets to the scene,” said STARS spokesperson Blake Robert.

“That includes STAR 7 which is our helicopter here in Winnipeg, STAR 9 which is our helicopter from the Regina Base and in addition to that, we’ve deployed medical crews on two fixed wing aircraft from here in Winnipeg. So between the two helicopters and the fixed wing deployment to the area, there 14 STARS critical care members responding to the incident.”

At the time CityNews spoke with Robert, he was unable to provide information on the scope of the crash or how many people were being transported from the site.

“Certainly not something that’s out of our experience or capability, we’ve responded to large events like this in the past in other provinces. So, we’re certainly well prepared and well capable for it, but this is definitely not a typical level of response that’s required on a STARS mission.”

Robert says STARS crews were on scene as quick as possible.

Winnipeg hospitals were placed in Code Orange, which signifies a mass casualty response. The Code Orange was lifted around 3 p.m.

“In preparation for an event like this, all care teams make every effort to create capacity. That includes emergency department staff who are lined up in the hall to receive these individuals. It includes surgical and critical care teams who cleared elective surgeries and prep spaces to provide life saving care,” said Jennifer Cumpsty, executive director, Acute Health Services.

Cumpsty notes 12 ambulances also responded to the scene.

Officials say a family room has been established at HSC Winnipeg and at the Brandon Regional Health Centre (BRHC).

Family members of those involved in the collision, who want more information, are asked to contact either HSC at 204-787-3661 or 1-877-499-8774, or contact the BRHC at 204-578-4080.

In addition, a family support center has been set up, and families who are concerned can call 204-657-5087.

The RCMP is asking that only concerned family members call the numbers provided.

‘Our hearts are broken’

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson took to social media to share condolences after the crash, saying in a tweet, “My heart breaks hearing the news of the tragic accident near Carberry. My most sincere condolences go out to all those involved.”

“Our hearts are broken, and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all the lives impacted by the horrific and devastating tragedy near the Town of Carberry,” said Stefanson in a statement.

“I know our dedicated first responders and health-care workers are doing all they can to assist and I want to thank them on behalf of all Manitobans.”

Flags at the Manitoba Legislative Building have been lowered to half-mast.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in.

“The news from Carberry, Manitoba is incredibly tragic,” he said in a tweet.

“I’m sending my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones today, and I’m keeping the injured in my thoughts. I cannot imagine the pain those affected are feeling – but Canadians are here for you.”

The City of Brandon confirms it was not a Brandon Access Transit bus involved in the crash.

-With files from Morgan Modjeski, CityNews

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