One person is dead following a multi-vehicle crash on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway north of Calgary on Thursday morning.

Two separate collisions in close proximity in the southbound lanes resulted in a pileup of up to 40 vehicles, said Alberta RCMP Sgt. Jose Valiquette. The collisions happened between Carstairs and Didsbury at about 8:30 a.m. MT.

Pete Hamstra was on his way to work in Calgary when he saw a vehicle crash ahead of him. 

'Vehicles started flying by'

"A couple vehicles started flying by me on my left and running into him, and the median and into each other, then I got hit from behind," said Hamstra.

"I yelled at my passenger to get out and run as far away as he could."

crash

One person was killed in a multi-vehicle crash on the QEII Highway north of Calgary on Thursday morning. (Mike Spenrath/CBC)

He then put his car into the ditch. When he got out of his car he heard someone crying.

“I heard a little girl screaming, ran over to the green van over there and she was screaming that her daddy was dead — and he was dead,” said Hamstra.

From there, he took the girl, who he says looked to be five- or six-years-old, from the van and put her in his truck.

"About a minute or two after that his vehicle got hit again, that same vehicle went flying about, I don't know 40 feet further," he said.

“Two minutes after the girl got pulled out.”

The mother was also in the car and had minor head injuries. 

The man died on scene. A second person was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition. Four others suffered non-life-threatening injuries, said EMS spokeswoman Naomi Nania.

Highway reopened 

Southbound lanes of the QEII are now open to traffic after being closed while RCMP investigated the crash.

Another road was closed at Highway 1 at the Minnewanka turnoff after a separate collision. Westbound lanes will be closed for several hours, RCMP said Thursday afternoon.

Environment Canada had issued snowfall warnings for several areas west and east of Calgary on Thursday morning. Those warnings have since been lifted.

Oyen RCMP advised early Thursday afternoon against travel on Highway 9 from Hanna, Alta., to the Saskatchewan border because of icy road conditions and limited visibility.