Family of Jasper crash victims thanks bystanders, public and medical staff

The family of two victims killed in a highway crash near Jasper this week issued a statement Friday thanking bystanders to offered help at the accident scene and the general public for an outpouring of support.

'We have truly felt the much needed encouragement from, and for, so many people'

This family photo shows Nick Copeland, Sarah Copeland (holding their son), Angela Dye Elkins and Curtis Elkins. The family was in one of two vehicles that struck head-on in Jasper National Park. Nick and Angela were among those killed. (Facebook)

The family of two victims killed in a highway crash near Jasper this week issued a statement Friday thanking bystanders who offered help at the accident scene and the general public for the outpouring of support.

The statement, issued by Tim Dye of Bossier, La., was read on behalf of the family by Cpl. Laurel Scott at a news conference at RCMP K-Division headquarters in Edmonton.

Dye is the brother of Angela Dye Elkins, 50, who was killed in the crash along with her son-in-law, Nick Copeland, 28, who lived in Houston, Texas. Two other family members, Curtis Elkins and his daughter, Sarah Copeland, are recovering in hospital from their injuries. A fifth family member, a two-year-old boy, suffered bruises in the crash.

Four others also died in the crash.

"To all of those who have been following the tragic event that involved our family, thank you for your thoughts and prayers," Dye's statement said.

"We have truly felt the much needed encouragement from, and for, so many people. 

"Many are asking about Sarah and Curtis, who survived the accident. They are currently receiving hospital care and are both in a recovery process. The baby, William, is also safe and reunited with the family. It's truly a miracle that he came through the wreck with nothing more than a few bruises.

"There are so many things we are grateful for during this time: To the citizens and the first people present at the scene, your bravery has left us in awe of how willing people are to help. To the RCMP and other first responders, thank you for serving us in this sensitive time with compassionate care while still doing your jobs and seeking information. Your level of excellence in working with us has been exceptional.

"Finally, to the people who have given hospital care to Sarah, Curtis and William, words cannot express how much each of you have impacted us with your level of care. The pediatric and ICU nurses made us feel like family by what you guys have done for us and our family.  

"We know there is a long road ahead of us. This family came to Canada seeking adventure. The silver lining is that through all of the pain and loss, we know that Angela and Nick were upgraded to an even better adventure. God's faithfulness has been so evident in how so many people have responded. No word, prayer, financial gift or condolence will go unforgotten by our family.   

"To the media: Thank you for receiving this update from us. We ask that you use this as blanket coverage for any of your news stories. We also ask that you respect the rest of our time here and allow us privacy with no further contact, as we continue to recover and return home soon."

Scott also provided a brief update about the other four people killed in Tuesday's crash on Highway 93.

She said RCMP collision analysts continue to investigate but have not yet determined the cause of the crash.

All four occupants of the other vehicle, a Hyundai Kona SUV, were killed in the crash. The victims, identified earlier this week by friends, were three men —​ Anand Singh Panwar, Pavan Kathiat and Ganesh Anala — and one woman, Gelek Wangmo. All were working at Banff restaurants.

Scott said two of the dead were men aged 30 and 35. Both were Indian nationals.

Anand Singh Panwar, left, was also killed in the crash. His friend Deepak Bhatt, right, identified him and the three others victims in the second vehicle. (Supplied by Deepak Bhatt)

The RCMP has been working with the office of the chief medical examiner in Edmonton to identify the two remaining occupants of the SUV.

"Due to the fire that occurred and the possibility that they are not residents of Alberta, this is a complex death investigation," Scott said.   

The collision happened at about 5 p.m. Tuesday on Highway 93 near Honeymoon Lake, 52 kilometres south of Jasper.

Police said earlier this week that a preliminary investigation indicated that a northbound van had collided head-on with a southbound SUV. Both vehicles caught fire.