Cleanup continues after horrific highway crash
The grim job of investigating and cleaning up Friday's horrific series of chain-reaction accidents that killed at least seven people continues near Windsor, Ontario.
More than 60 vehicles were involved in the fiery crash along a two-kilometre stretch of Highway 401, which remained closed Saturday as crews hastily resurfaced the ripped-up road.
The Ontario Provincial Police and the province's chief coroner worked throughout the night to remove the remains of six victims from the wreckage.
Officials said that seven people have now been confirmed dead. Coroner Dr. James Young said he is confident they have found all the bodies.
The victims are identified as three men, two women and two adolescents. Some are Americans, and at least one was a truck driver.
The bodies have been transferred to Toronto where forensic tests will be completed to positively identify the victims.
Police say all of the 45 people taken to hospital are in stable condition.
Although the exact cause of the crash is still not known, it's believed thick fog was a factor.
Visibility on the road went from excellent to dangerous in just a few minutes when the road was enveloped in a dense fog during the morning rush-hour.
The fog, a mixture of pollution and humidity, developed over Detroit and Windsor, and then quickly moved over the highway.
Drivers were caught in the fog before they could slow down or react to the situation. Many cars ended up in the ditches on the side of the highway. Others slammed into each other, setting off a chain-reaction on the road.
In the worst accident, a tanker truck carrying fuel burst into flames. Fourteen cars and five semi-tractor trailers were engulfed in the fire. It was in that section that six of the victims were found. The other victim was killed in a separate collision.
In the midst of the carnage were selfless acts of heroism. Nearby residents and those lucky enough to avoid the various pileups rushed to pull others from the twisted wreckage.
Kirk Walstead told CBC Newsworld he joined with a group trying to save travellers from Detroit trapped in their car under a transport truck.
"It was just a tangled mess. I didn't even know what we were pulling," he said. One woman was saved. Another woman died.
Another rescuer told of trying to save a mother and daughter. The mother got out, but the rescuers couldn't get to the girl before the vehicle was consumed by flames.
Firefighters had trouble inching their way through the mangled mess. One fire truck drove across a farm field to get to burning wreckage.
The stretch of the 401 where the accident occurred is just west of another section of the highway called the "killer highway."
In the past year, 13 people have been killed in road accidents along that stretch, prompting calls for a redesign of the highway.
Ontario Transportation Minister David Turnbull just recently received a report on that section of the highway. On Friday he refused to answer questions about the highway's condition.
"There were indications that there was some aggressive driving and fog," he told reporters at Queen's Park. "I await the report of the OPP. I'm not going to speculate on it now."