Several prairie communities are shaking with grief after three children and a teen were killed when a camper van being driven by a 15-year-old boy collided with a freight train near Broadview, Sask.

The crash killed the driver's younger brother and sister and two young family friends.

Dead are:

  • Bailey Morrison, an 11-year-old girl from Turner Valley, Alta.
  • Roy Morrison, a seven-year-old boy, both from Turner Valley, Alta.
  • an 11-year-old girl and family friend, who had recently moved from Turner Valley, Alta., who is not being named at the request of her family.
  • Tori Delarue, an 18-year-old woman from the Whitewood, Sask., area.

The driver of the camper van, Luke Morrison, and his mother Vicki Morrison, 42, survived the crash. Vicki had been in the passenger seat.

Bill Thomson — Vicki's father, and the grandfather of Luke, Bailey, and Roy — said he wonders how his daughter and her son will manage.

"Accidents happen, it doesn’t mean — it’s just the way it... I don’t know of anything that could make the system different or better. It just — things do happen, that’s all there is to it," Thomson said.

Thomson spoke with CBC News from his home in Alberta. He said he had been in touch with his wife and with Vicki, who are in Saskatchewan.

"By the time

[Luke] saw the train he felt it was just too late to stop, and he thought — he was hoping he could get across," Thomson said.

"A millisecond difference and he would have — that's all there is."

si-memorial

A makeshift memorial was set up at a school in Turner Valley. ((Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC))

In Turner Valley, a makeshift memorial had been placed on a wall of the local school.

"You will be missed," the memorial reads.

Bailey and Roy Morrison were Luke's brother and sister. The siblings' father died a few years ago in a farming accident, CBC News was told.

The 11-year-old girl was a friend of the family. She had recently moved to Chestermere, Alta. from Turner Valley.

Tori Delarue, 18, was another friend of the family.

Angelina Merkel, a co-worker of Delarue's at the Whitewood Co-Op store, said Tori was beautiful, and good-spirited.

"She would do anything for anyone. The world is just not the same without her," Merkel said.

The accident

broadview, skThe crash happened at an uncontrolled rail crossing about 150 kilometres east of Regina.

RCMP and emergency medical crews were called around 6:45 p.m. CST to the crash site on a grid road south of the Trans-Canada Highway, just east of Broadview and about 150 kilometres east of Regina.

Police haven't said what might have caused the crash at the uncontrolled rail crossing. It was during daylight hours and the weather was clear at the time.

According to RCMP, the van was going south on the rural road, and the train was westbound.

"The train could have been proceeding in the blind spot of the driver," Cpl. Rob King, a spokesman for the RCMP in Saskatchewan, said Friday. "Maybe he just didn't look. It's impossible to determine fault."

In both Saskatchewan and Alberta, it's legal for a 15-year-old to drive with a learner's permit provided there is an adult in the vehicle.

RCMP said the driver had a valid learner's permit, issued in Alberta. King added it was too early to say if driver experience played a role in the crash.

According to King, the freight train was moving at about 80 km/h at the time of the crash.

A team with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada was on its way to Broadview to investigate.

Police said the 15-year-old had severe injuries and was transported by an air ambulance helicopter to Regina. His mother was taken to Broadview for treatment, but was later released.

The head of a national rail safety organization, Operation LifeSaver, told CBC News on Friday that drivers need more education about the dangers of uncontrolled level crossings.

"Quite frankly, when you go through drivers' ed or training they don't spend as much time as they need to go over what can happen at railway crossings and the dangers they can have," Dan Ditota said.

Kevin Hrysak, a spokesman for the railway company, said there were two employees on the freight train at the time of crash.

They were not hurt, but they, and the railway company, are distressed by the crash.

"Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family and friends of those involved in this unfortunate incident," Hrysak said.