Road Tragedy in Sabai: Panic in the Cree Community of Waswanibi

Road Tragedy in Sabai: Panic in the Cree Community of Waswanibi

The Cree community of Waswanibi in Nord-du-Quebec is declaring four days of mourning to mourn the deaths of four of its members in the Chappais Road tragedy on Thursday. .

• Read more: Five people were killed in a major accident on Route 113 in Sabai

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) confirms that four of the five victims are from Waswanibi, where they were riding in a van when they collided head-on at the eastern entrance on Route 113 in the afternoon. to the city.

The driver, a 45-year-old, was accompanied by a 60-year-old female passenger and passengers aged 63 and 69. The 47-year-old driver of the van also succumbed to his injuries. The coroner's office, which opened the investigation, had not confirmed the identities at the time of writing.

“Terrible Tragedy”

The tragedy “has left our community in shock and disbelief,” Irene Niebosch, chief of the Cree First Nation of Waswanibi, announced in a press release, declaring four days of mourning “in honor of the lives lost.”

“I appeal to all residents to reflect on the preciousness of life and convey our sympathies to the bereaved. As we mourn the loss of our members, let us also remember the importance of compassion, empathy and solidarity,” he added.

It's a “terrible, terrible tragedy,” Quebec-Labrador Council of First Nations chief Ghislaine Picard said in an interview. Newspaper.

Messages of sympathy and solidarity have also poured in for the victims and the Cree village of about 1,700 souls.

“I know the community is getting stronger and stronger. [de manière] Completely understandably, shaken by the tragedy, so today our thoughts, our prayers, go out to the community of Vaswanibi,” said Mr. Picard said.

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It's an event that leaves scars, he explains.

“Obviously everyone knows each other, yes, but everyone is closely related, has very, very close family ties. It's characteristic of all our communities, so, yes, I think it shakes everyone up,” he insists.

A respected citizen

For reasons still unknown, the van veered off its path and went in the opposite direction. Following this, a terrible fire broke out in the van. All were declared dead at the hospital.

According to our information, the occupant of the pick-up vehicle is Michael Binet, a resident of Chappais.

“A very friendly young man, working, with a young family… I'm actually a little bit stunned at what's going on,” said Mayor Jack Fortin.

“He was a guy who was into hockey,” he recalled, “who wanted to be involved with young people.”

He wonders if climate may have played a role. He said the stretch didn't appear to be problematic, but it had snowed the night before.

“The track was beautiful, but it was snow, ice, so we had to be careful,” according to him, despite passing the snow plow and spreading the abrasion.

“[L’accident,] I am [ne] Don't explain it to me because he is a diligent driver, he is generally a very safe guy,” he notes, adding that he has worked with him at the Ministry of Transport (MTQ) in the past.

MTQ employee

Mr. Pinet was the team leader on roads and structures for MTQ, confirming the general arrangement, and learned the news “with great sadness” while noting that he was not in the office during the events.

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There was an accident in his personal vehicle. A psychological support unit has been set up for his colleagues and family members, spokeswoman Sarah Pensadown said.

According to the ministry, the area is not considered accident-prone. Between 2018 and 2022, three minor accidents occurred.

SQ confirms that one of the factors under study is meteorology. “We haven't ruled out any hypothesis,” Sergeant Hughes Beaulieu said.

After last summer's wildfires, Mayor Fortin sighed, “It's another tragedy” in Chappais. “It's definitely scary.”

Twenty-four hours after the incident, on Friday, Route 113 was shut down to allow authorities to complete their investigation. SQ's reconstruction experts and fire scene technicians rushed to the spot.

At the time of the tragedy, the region was experiencing dry fog, a bitter cold of -14 degrees Celsius and wind gusts of up to 39 km/h, according to Environment Canada data.

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