Hwy 527 washout causes fatal accident

Ontario Provincial Police say one man was killed early Wednesday when his vehicle plunged into a washout on Highway 527 north of Thunder Bay, bursting into flames.
One man is dead following a traffic accident that happened at a road washout on Highway 527, near Gull Bay First Nation. (Hugh King)

Ontario Provincial Police say they are still investigating a fatal collision Wednesday on Highway 527 north of Thunder Bay.

OPP Constable Diana Cole said the accident happened around 5:40 a.m.

"A vehicle was northbound on highway 527, when a section...gave way as the driver drove over and passed the area. Shortly thereafter, a second northbound vehicle approached the washout. The driver did not realize that the area had been washed away. Subsequently, drove into the washout and the vehicle became engulfed in flames."

Cole confirmed the victim was a male.

The Ministry of Transportation said the washout occurred at McConnell Creek, about 70 kilometres south of Armstrong. In a statement to CBC News, an MTO spokesperson said portions of the culvert are still in place, but the highway around the culvert is washed out. 

Hugh King, a Gull Bay First Nation council member, said he drove to the site, located about 200 km north of Thunder Bay, to see what happened.

“It's a big washout … probably about 50 feet wide and quite deep,” he told CBC News.

“There's a vehicle in the washout. Someone passed away.”

Gull Bay First Nation cut off   

King said police and officials on the scene told him they expect it will take anywhere from two days to a week before the road is re-opened.

The closure of Hwy 527 cuts off Gull Bay First Nation, as well as Whitesand First Nation and Armstrong from the south. King said that means people can't be transported to medical appointments and, if anyone needs emergency care, they will have to be flown out.

"It's going to have a real effect on the community because we have health patients that get transported out of here daily. And that's the major concern right now,” he said.

For food or whatever, we can always get to Armstrong, which is 70 km north of here."

The MTO said road conditions are currently being assessed and additional details on estimated time for opening of the highway will be provided when they become available.