‘Great big flames way up high,’ witness says of Gainford derailment, explosion
Gainford evacuated as emergency crews battle massive fire
Jen Gerson | 13/03/21
About 100 people suffered minor injuries in a massive multi-car pile up involving several semi-trailers and hundreds of cars south of Leduc near Edmonton on Thursday. One person was sent to hospital in the provincial capital with serious trauma. Six others were transported to nearby local hospitals with moderate injuries.
A kilometres-long stretch of Highway 2 was completely closed by a slew of disabled and trapped vehicles. Officials reported expected delays of up to 6 hours after slick roads and white-out conditions made travelling the road all but impossible.
Derek Fildebrandt, the Alberta director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was on his way to Edmonton on the bus when the pile up occurred.
“I was in the middle of writing my speech, just bitching about the budget, and all of the sudden there were 18-wheelers flying around us,” he said. “Everyone could see out the windows and cars were narrowly avoiding us, flying around both sides.”
The bus driver told the passengers to sit down and buckle up as they waited to be hit by more vehicles from behind, Mr. Fildebrandt said. Fortunately, the vehicle emerged from the accident unscathed.
Afterward, Mr. Fildebrandt got out of the bus and walked along the length of the accident scene ten minutes north and south, but saw neither the front nor the back of it.
“There would be another pile-up, almost like a wave and a crest,” he said. “Every two hundred metres, you’d see it was just carnage and wreckage…it just went on and on.”
He said he saw one man with what appeared to be broken legs; another was trapped under his car. Civilians, first responders and off-duty police officers were quick to respond, he said.
Mr. Fildebrandt said he helped another accident victim pull his flatbed truck out of a ditch. The two then crossed over the median, doubled back and made it to Edmonton using country roads.
Alberta Health Services, updating the situation via Twitter, said patients were being assessed in three Greyhound buses. Four transit buses were also sent to the scene to provide shelter.
The brutal storm has crippled Edmonton, delaying public transit and closing roads. The international airport advised passengers to avoid the highway and re-book their flights.
The early spring storm was expected to dump 25 cm of snow on the city and surrounding areas.
In Edmonton proper, the white-out conditions are so bad that the police have shut down Anthony Henday Drive — the massive ring-road which encircles the city — which will grind the evening commute in the the city to a stand still. The Edmonton Journal reported that the delay would last for several hours, though there were mixed reports of people getting on limited sections of the arterial ring road.