Quebec transport minister says province needs to take action after deadly 140-car pileup

Quebec's transport minister says he wants to "secure" a section of Highway 15 South where two people were killed and 29 injured in a 140-car pileup on Montreal's South Shore, Wednesday. 

"I intend to act quickly … to secure the sector, which is not easy," Minister François Bonnardel said Thursday. 

Though the incident, which took place in La Prairie, is still under investigation, authorities say it was likely a sudden whiteout caused by blowing snow that led to the chain reaction of collisions.

Quebec's coroner's office identified the two victims as Charles Rivard, 54, and Pierre Boudreau, 69, both residents of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. 

In total, 28 people were taken to hospital for injuries after the pileup. Five were still in hospital Thursday afternoon. 

Bonnardel says all options are on the table, mentioning the possibility of adding signs to warn about possible strong winds, or adding vegetation or wind-breaking panels to cut the wind. 

"We have to be logical," he said.

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After the pileup, Bonnardel said the area is not considered prone to collisions as there have been no major accidents there for at least two decades. 

He said Thursday that about 10 accidents happen every year on the stretch of road, which about 60,000 vehicles cross every day.

Despite this, Bonnardel said, the government needs to "take action" and take measures to prevent an accident from happening again.

'It's action-reaction'

La Prairie Mayor Donat Serres said Wednesday that the highway configuration was changed in the early 2000s, which elevate the expressway. This created a springboard effect, propelling snow up to vehicles' windshields, he said. 

"I think we need an intervention plan to find solutions," Serres said.

Stéphane Gagné was driving one of the first cars in the pileup. He told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that he feels lucky to be alive with minor injuries. 

He said after the initial crash, he looked up to see a truck wall directly in front of him. He was stuck between several vehicles before a tractor trailer hit his bumper, freeing him. 

"It's action-reaction. That's the only thing you can do. It's going too fast," Gagné said.