Freezing rain a factor in fatal crashes south and north of Edmonton, RCMP say

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A vehicle slid off Queen Elizabeth II Highway, south of Edmonton, early Thursday morning as freezing rain pummelled the region.  (David Bajer/CBC - image credit)
A vehicle slid off Queen Elizabeth II Highway, south of Edmonton, early Thursday morning as freezing rain pummelled the region. (David Bajer/CBC - image credit)

Freezing rain in northern Alberta Thursday morning contributed to three deaths on highways north and south of Edmonton.

One person died in a pileup on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway near Ponoka while two people were found dead at a crash scene on Highway 28 in Sturgeon County.

Ponoka RCMP were called to the scene on the QEII at 6:15 a.m. after a tractor-trailer jackknifed in the northbound lanes near Highway 53 and was struck by a second semi-trailer.

A third tractor-trailer, unable to stop, slid into the crash scene, RCMP said in a release.

The driver of one of the semi-tractor trailer units, a 64-year-old man from Rimbey, was declared dead on scene. The RCMP are not releasing the man's name.

The preliminary investigation found that seven semi-tractor trailer units and one SUV were involved in the collision.

As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the northbound lanes of the QEII highway were still closed and traffic rerouted at the Highway 53 overpass.

A volatile substance, ammonium nitrate, was removed from one of the damaged tankers as part of the clean-up, RCMP added.

Details regarding other injuries or the total number of vehicles involved were not available, RCMP said in the release.

Cpl. Kelly Sikorski said weather played a major role.

"Freezing rain is believed to be the factor in this collision," Sikorski said.

Weather was also a factor in a fatal highway crash in Sturgeon County, said Alberta Health Services.

EMS attended six collisions in the Edmonton region, AHS said, while RCMP said it was dealing with 60 collisions across the province.

ETS buses stop

In Edmonton, 59 collisions were reported on city streets Thursday with at least four people injured, police said.

The freezing rain led to Edmonton Transit Services pulling all of its buses off the road for 30 minutes during the morning commute.

Edmonton's on-demand transit and DATS were also experiencing delays.

As of noon Thursday, Edmonton EMS had responded to 29 slips or falls, most of which were likely because of the weather conditions, Bland said.

That's about three times the normal volume for an average morning, she noted.

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