British Columbia

Friends rally around family in hospital whose child was killed after SUV struck by tractor-trailer

The family was relocating from Vancouver to St. Catharines, Ont., when their vehicle was hit in a construction zone in southeastern Alberta.

Eldest son, 10, killed in the accident and 4 other family members sent to hospital

Carla Chambers Jeffreys was moving back to Ontario with her family when their SUV was hit. According to a GoFundMe page, she was airlifted to a hospital in Calgary with serious, potentially life-threatening injuries. (Brock University)

Friends and colleagues are rallying around a family of five who lost a child and whose other members were seriously injured Wednesday after being struck by a tractor-trailer in Alberta.

The family was moving to St. Catharines, Ont., from Vancouver.

RCMP say the semi slammed into the back of the family's SUV, which was stopped in a construction zone on a highway near Oyen, Alta.

"That caused the SUV to be propelled into the tractor-trailer unit in front of it," said Cpl. Laurel Scott with the Alberta RCMP. "It's a very tragic incident, and we are still investigating it."

One of the children, a 10-year-old boy, died at the scene. Two adults and two other children were airlifted to Calgary hospitals. 

A GoFundMe page, set up to raise money for the family, identifies Carla Chambers-Jeffreys and Bob Chaylt Jeffreys and their three children. 

According to the fundraiser, the parents and two children suffered serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. 

Debi Wong, a friend and colleague of Carla Chambers Jeffreys, had recently been over with her son for a catch-up and play date. (CBC)

Debi Wong, a colleague and friend of the mother, described the family as "amazing" and highly artistic. 

"I was talking to Carla about two days before they left Vancouver," Wong said. "We were just catching up and saying bye, saying, 'we'll see you on the East Coast. See you again soon.'"

The family was driving east to relocate to St. Catharines, Ont., where they have relatives. 

'A new chapter'

Chambers Jeffreys, a trained opera singer, had just completed a masters' degree in Studies in Comparative Literatures and Arts at Brock University, in St. Catharines, this year. 

"This was sort of starting a new chapter," Wong said. 

Wong and Chambers-Jeffreys, who met at an opera symposium and both worked in Vancouver's art scene, had recently gotten together for a play date with their children and to catch up. 

She said the whole family is talented and creative, recalling how the 10-year-old — the eldest child who died in the accident — participated in their conversation about upcoming art projects. 

"He seemed so much like Carla, really intelligent and so well-spoken," Wong said. "He would chime in with ideas of how he could help, how he could participate and support his mom and her artistic endeavours."

In addition to singing and her academic work, Chambers-Jeffreys had been working in arts administration in Vancouver with local organizations, including the City of Vancouver, the 5X Festival, and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

Relatives could not be reached for comment and, according to the GoFundMe page, are asking for privacy. 

"As an artist and scholar, Carla's extensive qualities of insight, persistence, passion and generosity will certainly help sustain her during this exceptionally difficult time," wrote David Fancy, who supervised her masters' thesis at Brock University.

"All our thoughts are with Carla and her family now." 


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the victim's age was 11. In fact, he was 10 years old.
    Aug 11, 2019 6:03 PM PT

With files from Canadian Press