A Gander man expects Father's Day will bring a tangle of emotions as he grieves the recent loss of his own daughter with the grandson he is now raising.


Timothy Wheaton, 3, cradled throughout his parents' funeral in the arms of his grandfather. (CBC)

In April, Ron Thompson lost his daughter Trena, her husband Shannon Wheaton, and their two-year-old son, Ben, in a head-on highway collision near Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thompson, 59, is now a single parent raising his three-year-old grandson Timothy, who survived the crash.

"Father's Day is going to be difficult," he said. It’s going to be a pleasure to have him around but difficult as I deal with the losses that I’ve had. I guess the hardest is the times when he's asleep and I'm alone and I have a lot of time on my own to just sit back and think about what's happened."

Deadly Alberta highway

Thompson’s family members died on a notorious stretch of Alberta's Highway 63 where many accidents have happened over the years.

They were on is a busy route stretching north of Edmonton to Fort McMurray and north to the oilsands, where thousands of people work and tonnes of material and equipment move daily.

Two years ago, volunteer firefighters from nearby Wandering River stopped responding to accidents on the highway because they found the work overwhelming.

In 2011, the provincial government and Athabasca County invested $1.3 million to hire more emergency responders to cover the route.

Between 2001 and 2005, more than 1,000 crashes killed 25 people and injured 257 others on the highway.

In 2006, after years of public pressure, the Alberta government announced that it would twin a 240-kilometre stretch of the road. As of October 2009, 16 kilometres had been twinned.