Four people were killed and another four were injured after a vehicle drove the wrong way onto a highway in Chateauguay, Que., and collided head-on with an SUV in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Three members of the same family and another woman were killed when a car travelling the wrong way on a stretch of highway south of Montreal collided with an SUV early Tuesday morning.
Quebec Provincial Police said an 80-year-old Pierre-Julien Proulx drove his vehicle into oncoming traffic on Highway 30 in Chateauguay, south of Montreal, and hit a westbound SUV head-on.
"They headed down about 300 to 400 metres before the collision occurred," said Sureté du Quebec officer Daniel Thibaudeau.
The driver of the wrong-way vehicle and his wife, 82-year-old Raymonde Bouchard-Prolux, as well as a 14-year-old male relative, were killed in the crash.
CTV Montreal’s Derek Conlon reported that the three victims in the vehicle were members of a family from a Montreal suburb.
Conlon said a family visiting from Ontario were headed home in the SUV when they were struck. Carole Downer, 56, was travelling in the front passenger seat of the SUV. She was pronounced dead in hospital.
The four other occupants of the SUV were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police said they’re all expected to survive.
Investigators say they don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the collision.
The westbound lanes of the highway were temporarily closed for the investigation, but have since been reopened.
Conlon said investigators will be looking into whether or not poor visibility or confusing signage might have played a role in the crash.
He said residents in the Chateauguay area told him they don’t think there’s enough nighttime lighting for drivers to see the road signs and even when they can, the signs indicating not to enter the ramp from the wrong direction are not clear.
“Many people, they say, have come close to making the same mistake that the driver last night made,” Conlon said.
This isn’t the first fatality on this particular stretch of highway, Conlon said. In September 2015, an 89-year-old man drove in the wrong direction on Highway 30 and struck an oncoming vehicle. Both drivers in that accident were instantly killed.
In another case almost six months later, a 36-year-old woman was killed after she accidentally drove the wrong way on Highway 30 and crashed head-on with a pickup truck. Her mother complained at the time that the signs along the highway are poorly marked.
"There are no lights, there are no signs,” Joanne Breen said. “You've got to know you're going the wrong way.”
Chateauguay Mayor Nathalie Simon said she has experienced close calls on this stretch of road as well.
“I personally have a face-to-face encounter with me getting out of the autoroute, and a lady tried to get onto the autoroute in the wrong way,” said Simon. “The fact that we see so often people getting in the wrong way means there's a problem of signalization there.”
The MNA for the region, Treasury Board president Pierre Moreau, said steps would be taken to improve the lighting and signage beyond the existing "do not enter" sign.
Daniel Thibaudeau from the Surete Du Quebec, told CTV Montreal that the coroner assigned to the case would also be considering how signage might have affected Tuesday’s crash.
“If there is a signage issue that is brought to bear, well of course there will be recommendations and corrections that could be brought forth,” Thibeaudeau said.
Previous analysis by the Ministère des Transports shows the highway exit is no more dangerous than any other. However, the agency says changes may be considered in light of Tuesday’s crash.
With files from CTV Montreal
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