Natasha Gulliver one of 5 killed in tragic crash on TCH near Chapel Arm

Five adults — three women and two men — died in the passenger van that crashed and burned on the Trans-Canada Highway near Chapel Arm early Tuesday morning, CBC News has confirmed.
Natasha Gulliver was one of five people killed in Tuesday's crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Chapel Arm. (Submitted)

Natasha Gulliver of St. John's has been identified as one of the victims of a deadly vehicle crash that occurred on the Trans-Canada Highway near Chapel Arm early Tuesday morning.

She was one of three women and two men who died when the passenger van they were travelling in crashed and burned.

The names have not been released by police but CBC News has learned that Gulliver's partner, Terry Payne, and Payne's mother were also in the vehicle. CBC News has not yet confirmed the identities of the two remaining passengers.

The Dodge Caravan was travelling east just before 6 a.m. when it collided head-on with a Honda Ridgeline pickup.

The van veered into the ditch and caught fire, killing everyone inside.

There were two couples, and the mother of one of the men, travelling in the van.

Gulliver was a 40-year-old a mother of two, and the youngest of a family of 10.

Family devastated by tragedy

Her brother, Joe Gulliver, said it's a devastating time for the family.

"I'll be taking care of her 15-year-old daughter for the rest of her life," Gulliver said Thursday.

He said the tragedy has brought the family together, with all the "foolish arguments" of the past set aside.

"The family is coming together like you wouldn't believe," he said.

The van was travelling from a community in central Newfoundland to St. John's, where the mother was scheduled for a medical appointment.

This was the scene of a tragedy on the Trans-Canada Highway near Chapel Arm on Tuesday morning. Five adults perished when the van they were travelling in collided head-on with another vehicle, and later caught fire. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The second couple were along for the ride, said Gulliver.

The man driving the pickup received serious injuries, but is expected to live.

The collision occurred near the Long Harbour-Chapel Arm overpass on a straight stretch of highway during the pre-dawn hours.

It was raining and winds were high at the time.

Police confirmed the identity of all five people and notified next of kin Thursday afternoon.

According to RCMP, all deceased adults were from communities in Newfoundland.

Highway fatality scrum 0:39

'It just got more terrible and more horrific'

Norman's Cove-Long Cove fire chief Gary Rideout said 12 members of his department are "still trying to cope" after witnessing one of the deadliest highway tragedies the province has seen in recent years. 

The volunteers, Rideout said, are keeping in constant contact with the department through texting and telephone calls. 

Rideout said his priority is to monitor new volunteers who "hadn't seen anything like this" before.

"They're adjusting," he told CBC News Thursday.

Gary Rideout is chief with the Norman's Cove fire department. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

"They will never be back to what their normal was before they actually went to this, but our job now is to make sure we get them back to some sort of normal state and just continue follow-up.

It's not the way you want to gain the experience.- Gary Rideout, Norman's Cove-Long Cove fire chief  

"This might take days, it might take months."

While volunteers are aware of how grisly accident scenes can be, Rideout said there's no way to prepare for something like this.

He said the horrific scene was made worse when first responders learned five people had been traveling in the van.

"The reality didn't become reality until it was further uncovered later on during the day," Rideout said.

"It was known there was going to be a couple people in that car. That already [sunk] into them in the beginning. Of course, as it unfolded it just got more terrible and more horrific."

Meanwhile, Rideout hopes the horrible scene showed the first responders what they're capable of handling.

"There's certainly experience gained out of this," said Rideout.

"It's not the way you want to gain the experience, but that scene did reveal a lot of who the members are and what their tolerance levels are, so I hope that's the positive out of it."