Cranbrook, B.C., fire captain killed in head-on collision

Firefighters around the province are paying tribute to a fire captain killed Saturday in a car crash in B.C.'s Interior.

Cpt. Clayton Murrell was killed Saturday, wife Joan MacKinnon in critical condition, one other driver dead

Cpt. Clayton Murrell, of the Cranbrook, B.C., fire department, was killed in a crash on the Crowsnest Highway when a tractor trailer lost control and collided head-on with his vehicle. (Cranbrook Professional Fire Fighters Local 1253)

Firefighters around the province are paying tribute to a fire captain killed Saturday in a car crash in B.C.'s Interior.

The City of Cranbrook and the Cranbrook firefighters' union both confirmed the death of Cpt. Clayton Murrell, 51.

Lee Pratt, mayor of Cranbrook, said he was devastated to learn of Murrell's death. He said Murrell was beloved and respected by coworkers and the community at large.

"He was just a good, stand-up, honest guy," Pratt said. "He had very good integrity and principles, and he stuck with them."

A memorial has been put up in front of the Cranbrook fire hall, and fellow emergency workers expressed their condolences on social media.

Many around the province were familiar with Murrell through his role as vice president for the Kootenay region with the B.C. Professional Firefighters Association, the union that represents the province's firefighters.

"We are devastated to hear the news about Clay and his wife," reads a tweet from the District of North Vancouver's fire department.

"He has been a friendly face, a gentlemen, and a monumental person in the advocacy for firefighters in this province."

Wife in critical condition

Murrell's wife, Joan MacKinnon, was airlifted to hospital in Kelowna where she remains in critical condition, according to the City of Cranbrook.

Pratt said MacKinnon is the head lifeguard at Cranbrook's aquatic centre. He said she and Murrell were very happily married.

"They were getting to their stage in life where things were looking very good for them and they were really looking forward to the next years," Pratt said.

Another driver, 2 horses also killed

The crash that killed Murrell happened at about 9 a.m. Saturday on the Crowsnest Highway near Yahk, south of Cranbrook.

RCMP say a tractor trailer lost control on black ice and veered into oncoming traffic, colliding head-on with a truck hauling a horse trailer.

A crash closed the Crowsnest Highway south of Cranbrook, B.C., for much of Saturday. One person was taken to hospital in critical condition. (Submitted)

According to police, the driver of the tractor trailer, a 59-year-old man from Edmonton, was not wearing a seatbelt, and was killed after being ejected from the cab of his truck.

The two horses in the horse trailer were also killed.

Police say speed and icy roads were factors in the collision.