Rescuer pulled child from wreckage of Alberta crash

A man who rescued a boy from the wreckage of last week's horrific crash near Fort McMurray heard the child's cries as soon as he jumped out of his van to help.

Dion Lefebvre rescued child from wreckage

Man pulled child from fatal crash

9 years ago
Dion Lefebvre describes the crash that killed seven people south of Fort McMurray last week 6:07

A man who rescued a boy from the wreckage of last week's horrific crash near Fort McMurray heard the child's cries as soon as he jumped out of his van to help.

Dion Lefebvre, the owner-operator of Westlock Movers from Westlock Alta., was driving a van to Fort McMurray the afternoon of April 27 when he was passed by a northbound pickup truck. To his horror, the truck then smashed head-on into another pickup that was travelling south.

"I felt the impact inside the cab of my truck," Lefebvre said. "You could feel the shock. You could feel the impact. You knew there was absolute chaos because they hit doing over 100 km/h each head-on. You couldn't have hit more head-on than what happened."

Shannon Wheaton, Trena Thompson-Wheaton and their younger son, Ben, were killed in last Friday's collision on Alberta's Highway 63. Their son Timothy, 3, (left) survived. (Facebook)

Lefebvre pulled over. As he jumped out of his van, the cries of three-year-old Timothy Wheaton drew him to a scene Lefebvre described as "absolute carnage."

"I knew that I would find death and destruction, but I also knew that I would find life because I heard little Timmy," he said.

Lefebvre's first aid training kicked into gear. He crawled through the truck's smashed back window to reach the little boy. By that point, two other passersby stepped in to help, easing the child through a side door.

There were five other people in the southbound truck: Timothy's parents, Shannon and Trena Wheaton; his two-year-old brother Ben; and family friends Mark and Courtney Penney. Mark Penney was the only other person to survive the crash. .

Lefebvre also rescued 11-year-old Faith Kondusky-Sennett from the second truck which had burst into flames. She was flown to Edmonton's Stollery Childrens' Hospital where she later died. Her father, Dan Sennett, and John Schroeder, 24, also died in the crash.

'Miracle child'

Lefebvre, who has three young children of his own, hasn't seen Timothy since he pulled him from the wreckage. The little boy is now recovering in Newfoundland with his grandfather. Lefebvre says Timothy has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but believes he will pull through.

"He's a miracle child as far as I'm concerned," Lefebvre said.  "I wish him the best of luck and I wish his life to be full of abundance."

The crash has renewed calls for the province to twin Highway 63, a heavily travelled stretch of road that is the only link to Fort McMurray and the Alberta oilsands.

The province announced in 2006 it would twin the road, but progress has been slow, which has fuelled public rage in the aftermath of the crash. Thousands have signed an online petition and a protest is planned for this weekend.

Lefebvre is also furious. Not only does he plan to take part in Saturday's protest, he's challenging Alberta Premier Alison Redford and the presidents of Syncrude and Suncor to take a trip up Highway 63 with him to see first-hand how dangerous the road can be.

"See the danger yourself. I dare you," he said. "You think I'm a hero for saving that little boy? You be a hero and twin that highway."

Redford said Wednesday that she will instruct her transportation minister to accelerate the upgrade.