Two dead in four-vehicle collision that closes highway

Dan Dakin

By Dan Dakin, For Postmedia Network

Two men died and two more were left fighting for their lives in hospital after a major collision on the QEW in St. Catharines early Thursday morning.

The crash involving two cars and two transport trucks happened between Seventh St. and Highway 406. The Ontario Provincial Police said six people were sent to hospital and two died of their injuries.

Shortly after midnight Friday, all lanes of the QEW Toronto-bound were sill closed at Highway 406.

The OPP have released the scene, with the transport ministry now in charge. As of 12:05 a.m., OPP advises that stretch may not open until 1 a.m. at the earliest, as paving the damaged surface continues.

OPP says crews there are hoping to have the stretch open, at the latest, by Friday morning rush hour.

Police in general are advising Toronto-bound motorists to avoid that area if possible.

Traffic is reportedly being re-routed via the North Service Rd.

Around 4 a.m., a white Mitsubishi carrying three people and a black BMW, with one person, were involved in a collision while heading Niagara-bound on the QEW just west of Third St., said OPP spokesman Sgt. Dave Woodford.

A transport truck carrying large steel coils collided with the Mitsubishi and then hit the centre median, Woodford said.

The trailer flipped over the median, spilling its steel coils in the Toronto-bound lanes. An Air Liquide tanker truck headed west in the Toronto-bound lanes struck one of the coils. The driver, a 53-year-old man from Hamilton was rushed to a Hamilton hospital and succumbed to his injuries Thursday afternoon.

A 20-year-old man from Brampton, who was a passenger in the Mitsubishi, was killed, while the driver of that car and another passenger were taken to Hamilton hospital with life-threatening injuries. The driver of the BMW sustained minor injuries and the driver of the Niagara-bound transport truck suffered serious injuries.

Woodford said as the trailer flipped over the median, it also struck a light standard and damaged it. Two large cranes were brought to the scene to remove the tall light pole because of worries it had suffered structural damage.

“It's quite the scene now,” Woodford said Thursday. “A lot of our reconstruction team has been here and have done their mapping.”

He said the cause of the original crash is still being investigated.

The Niagara-bound lanes of the QEW reopened Thursday afternoon, but the Toronto-bound lanes are now expected to be closed until early Friday morning. Woodford said the Toronto-bound lanes were so badly damaged by the crash they need to be repaved.

“A substantial amount of diesel fuel has leaked and it has ruined the surface of the highway so it's going to have to be ground down and redone,” he said.

In a Thursday statement, Air Liquide said its carbon dioxide truck involved in the crash was inspected by a safety expert.
"No product was released or spilled and the scene is contained," it said.
Air Liquide expressed deep sadness at the death of its "team member," the driver of that truck.
"This is a very sad and difficult time for all involved," said the statement. "We are working closely with the employee’s family and the Ontario Provincial Police to provide any support they need."

Niagara Region has also advised that garbage, organics and recycling collection is delayed Thursday in areas near the QEW in west St. Catharines, due to the crash and traffic conditions.
Those residents who did not have their materials collected today will have it picked up Friday. Materials should be at curbside by 7 a.m.

-files from Don Fraser, Standard Staff


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