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Dangerous Alberta highway claims another victim after two semis collide

Posted by mhudema on March 25, 2008

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FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. _ Another motorist has died on a busy highway that links Alberta´s oilsands with the rest of the province _ a highway that saw 10 people die in accidents last year.

RCMP in Fort McMurray say an Edmonton trucker has died after two semis collided on Highway 63 north of the Syncrude oilsands plant around 6 p.m. Friday.

Cpl. Monica Schimanke said in an interview Saturday that the first semi, hauling a trailer, had slowed down because the roadway was congested with traffic.

A pickup travelling behind the trailer swerved to avoid a collision, but she says the driver of another semi travelling behind the pickup couldn´t stop in time, she said.

“He swerved to the right. The cab of the second semi collided with the trailer of the second semi and as a result, he ended up in the right-hand ditch,” Schimanke said.

The trucker was wedged into the crumpled cab, and eventually he had to be cut out of the mangled wreck by emergency crews, she said.

“He was transported to Fort McMurray hospital and was then flown to a hospital in Edmonton where he succumbed to his injuries,” Schimanke said.

The name of the man hasn´t been released pending notification of his family.

The pickup driver, and the driver of the first semi, weren´t injured in the incident.

Highway 63, a main artery that stretches over 400 kilometres between Edmonton and the oilsands, is often crowded with traffic and has gotten a reputation for being a deadly stretch of road.

Between 2001 and 2005, there were over 1,000 collisions on the highway, killing 25 people and injuring 257 others.

There are often big lineups of traffic along the stretch of single-lane highway where the latest accident happened, about 45 kilometres north of Fort McMurray, Schimanke said.

“There is a lot of traffic there. Workers coming to and from the (plant) and traffic going up and down the highway all the time, so it is a busy piece of road,” she said.

“There´s a lot of heavy traffic on that road. There is a lot of equipment moving back and forth at all hours of the day,” Schimanke said.

Political and labour leaders have been lobbying the Alberta government for years to twin the highway between Edmonton and the oilsands capital

The provincial government has committed $820 million to twinning the road but has been criticized for not expediting the work.

In 2005, six oilsands workers were killed when their bus was hit by a tractor trailer on another rural highway north of Edmonton.

Several passengers had been standing outside the bus, as the bus driver tried to turn the large vehicle around on the highway.

The truck driver was later charged with 27 dangerous driving-related charges.


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