Dauphin mourns elderly community ‘who made us where we are today’

Members of the community are hurting following a tragic highway crash that resulted in the deaths of 15 people from Dauphin, Man. and sent 10 more to hospital, as many wait for answers and news of their friends and loved ones. @_MorganModjeski report

By Morgan Modjeski

The elderly community in Dauphin is among the hardest hit by last week’s fatal highway crash, with many knowing friends who were on the bus.

Residents of Dauphin are searching for answers and anxiously waiting for updates about the identities of the victims and the status of those who remain in hospital.

“We just can’t imagine the devastation that families are having to cope with right now, and so our hearts go out to them,” said 90-year-old Florence Marchak.

Fifteen people were killed and 10 were injured in Thursday’s fiery crash between a transport truck and a minibus that was carrying seniors from the Dauphin area to a casino near Carberry, Man., some 190 kilometres away.

Six of the hospitalized patients remain in critical condition, Shared Health said in an update Sunday morning.

Some of those on the bus involved in the crash are believed to be from St. George’s Place, a retirement home in Dauphin – the small community of 8,600 people northwest of Winnipeg.


Florence and Mike Marchak, 97, neighbours of the seniors’ residence, say they’ve been left heartbroken by the crash.

“It’s close knit and we’re sure there will be many affected,” Florence said.

The Marchaks, long-time residents of the area, told CityNews it’s their understanding people they knew were on the bus, adding no such tragedy has ever hit the town.

“Nothing of this magnitude,” said Florence.

Dauphin residents Florence and Mike Marchak. (CityNews)

‘The people who built the churches’

The atmosphere at the retirement home was heavy over the weekend, according to a man whose mother lives there, as people processed the devastating news. Kevin Dohan said those most affected by the tragedy are the ones who helped build the foundation for the strong, Prairie community.

“These folks are the people who built the churches, farmed in the community,” said Dohan. “Built the stores, ran the stores. Anything here, it was our seniors who made us where we are today.”

The RCMP have said the truck involved in the crash was travelling east on the Trans-Canada Highway when the southbound minibus crossed at an intersection. Investigators have not yet spoken with the driver of the bus, who remained in hospital along with the nine other survivors.

Sign for St. George’s Place, a retirement home in Dauphin, on June 17, 2023. (CityNews)

Given the nature of the tight-knit community, where neighbours know one another and friends are always nearby, residents told CityNews it’s not hard to find people directly impacted by the fatal crash.

“Just by the nature of a small community, we’re one to two degrees removed from these families,” said Dauphin resident Kirk Nyquist.

Flags at half mast

Flags across the city and province were at half-staff after the deadly collision. A flag on Nyquist’s lawn was also lowered in honour of those dealing with the tragedy.

“One of the biggest jokes in a small community is if you want to meet a friend, go to the co-op,” he said. “Try to get your shopping done in five minutes? Good luck. We’re a small community. We know people on the streets.”

Nyquist also says the lowering of the flag was his way of trying to show support for all affected, saying the city is doing what it can to rally together.

“As a small community, we’ve come together,” he said. “#Dauphinstrong, that’s pretty much what a small community is about.”

The province is encouraging those affected or having a difficult time to call 1-888-379-7699 for support and information on resources.

Aerial shot of Dauphin, Man., on June 16, 2023. (CityNews)

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