NEWS

Ontario highway crashes claim 6

01/04/2012 11:10 EST | Updated 03/05/2012 05:12 EST

Seven teenagers were killed in highway crashes on Tuesday, a tragic start to the new year on northern highways.

Four were killed in a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 69 north of Parry Sound, and two others died when their car crossed the centre line on Highway 17 near Hagar, west of North Bay. A seventh teen succumbed to her injuries Wednesday afternoon.

Several people involved in the crashes are also in hospital with serious injuries.

The accidents were a “waste of life [and] completely preventable … [resulting in] 12 families that have had their lives turned upside down,” OPP Insp. Mark Andrews said.

Hwy. 69 crash details

Andrews said the Highway 69 crash, which occurred five kilometres north of the intersection of Woods Road and Hwy. 69 in Shawanaga Township, involved three cars.

While in a passing lane, a Chevrolet Camaro travelling south toward Parry Sound crossed over the centre line and collided with an oncoming Honda Civic containing four people. A third car, a Chevrolet Optra, was unable to avoid crashing into the other two.

Both people in the Camaro — Jessica Chamberland, 18, who was driving, and her passenger, Alyssa McKeown, 17, both from Barrie — were killed.

Torry McIntyre-Courville, 18, who was driving the Civic, died at the scene. Her passenger, Cole Howard, 19, died at hospital. Both were from Sudbury. Two other passengers, Nicholas Bradley, 19, and Connor Kennedy, 14, remain at the West Parry Sound Health Centre in critical condition.

The driver of the Optra, Josephine McKechnie, 58, received minor injuries.

Hwy. 17 crash details

In the Highway 17 accident, Andrews said, a Ford minivan was travelling west, near the township of Hagar, when it swerved, crossed the centre line and collided head-on with a Jeep.

The minivan was filled with Renfrew-area teenagers. Keegan Melville, 18, and Zabrina Rekowski, 19, were killed in the crash. The driver of the vehicle, Hillary Afelski, 19, was transported to hospital, but died Wednesday afternoon from her injuries. Another passenger, Emily Olmstead, 19, remains in hospital.

The two people in the Jeep Cherokee — Walter Rancourt, 72, and Patricia Rancourt, 71, both from Sturgeon Falls, Ont. —were transported to hospital with serious injuries.

Weather wasn’t a factor in either crash, although it was “very cold,” Andrews said.

“People really need to be paying attention to what they’re doing [as] road conditions can change,” he said. “The road conditions were not poor, but you have to be mindful of your surroundings.”

Andrews, who was on the scene of the Hwy 69 accident, said he’s noticed that “if the weather is good, people let their guard down.”

Even on a sunny, clear day, shadows from rock cuts and trees can cause slippery conditions on the road, he said.

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