Crash kills teen granddaughters, grandfather; community mourns 'horrific situation'

Three communities in central Newfoundland are grieving in the wake of a two-vehicle crash that killed two teenage girls, their grandfather and another driver on Sunday, while the girls' grandmother was taken to hospital in critical condition.

RCMP were called to the crash on Route 380, near Robert's Arm, around 2:30 p.m.

The driver and two passengers in one vehicle — 67-year-old Cyril Winsor and his granddaughters — and the driver of a second vehicle — Jerry Weir from Little Bay Islands — were killed.

Winsor and his wife were residents of Triton, and were driving their granddaughters back to their home at the time of the crash. The girls, aged 14 and 16, were living in Middle Arm, about two hours away.

"It's not an easy blow on our town," said Triton Mayor Jason Roberts.

'I think that most people today will try to keep busy, but won't do much.' - Jason Roberts

"But as a town we'll come together and we'll be there for support and whatever we need to do to make it the best we can in such a horrific situation."

Pat Williams, the deputy mayor of Triton, said Monday that he knew Winsor his whole life.

"He was a good guy," Williams said.

Anthony Germain/CBC

According to police, Winsor, 67, was driving a "small car" which collided head on with an SUV.

"Weather and road conditions at the time of the collision were good and all occupants were wearing seatbelts," RCMP said in a statement.

RCMP said the cause of the crash is still under investigation, and confirmed Monday afternoon that the fifth person — the grandmother — remains in critical condition. According to Cpl. Dean Hyde, the woman was airlifted to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's.

Anthony Germain/CBC

Hyde said the RCMP's traffic analyst is making a report, but also asked for any witnesses to the collision to come forward.

"As of right now there's no indication that anyone actually saw what had happened," he said.

Support in multiple communities

The two teen girls were students at MSB Regional Academy in Middle Arm.

In a written statement, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) offered its condolences and said supports were being provided.

"The District has deployed a crisis response team to MSB Academy in Middle Arm, including an educational psychologist and additional guidance support," said the NLESD.

Classes for students from Grade 7 to 12 were cancelled Monday, although the school itself was open to provide support.

Counselling and debrief sessions were also being held Monday night for the firefighters and paramedics in Triton and Robert's Arm that responded to the incident Sunday.

CBC

Lori Miller, the mayor of Robert's Arm, also said that representatives from Central Health will be in the area Tuesday.

"It is very devastating — small area, I mean, we're close knit communities, and all communities are affected," she said.  "Because, I mean, even though it's people from Triton and Little Bay Islands, we all have relatives everywhere in most of the communities."

Miller wanted to express her thanks for the first responders.

"Sometimes it's a job that get little thanks," she said.  "But I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart."

'Touches the very fabric'

Pastor Wayne Baker with the Maranatha Pentecostal Tabernacle in Triton said the incident will ripple throughout his small community.

"Something of this nature touches in the very fabric of our community," he said. "When you think about the families, many families are interconnected. Many of the people that are responding to and giving care in this situation are first responders, are from this community."

Sherry Vivian/CBC

Baker said his church will be providing support in the coming days, and will do whatever possible to support the families affected.

"Faith is important in these times where we come to realize how fragile life is," he said. "And that there is someone bigger than we are that can help us in our processing." 

Williams said he was with his family when he heard the news that his long-time friend had died.

"That's all we could do, just talk about it, and it's heartbreaking," he said.

"I talked to one of the firefighters there this morning, and he told me he never slept last night, right? You know, just picturing everything and what happened." 

Spoke with driver just days ago

Roberts said it was just Friday that he was talking with the man from Little Bay Islands, who he knew "very well," and had talked to him about his pending resettlement to Springdale.

"It's just so funny, weird, that you're working with someone on Friday, you see the family around, and boom, it's just … it brings it to reality how quick it is," Roberts said.

Roberts said the community will lend its support to one another, and to the surviving family members who have been dealt a tragic blow.

"Everyone will come together to grieve and I guess to help, to be there, to listen and try to make the next morning come through when it's really, really rough for the family that's remaining," Roberts said.

"I think that most people today will try to keep busy, but won't do much."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador