Manitoba

'I don't understand what people are thinking': 6 dead in 1 weekend on Manitoba highways

Manitoba RCMP are again issuing a plea for drivers to change their behaviour behind the wheel following another deadly weekend on highways in the province.

'It's sad that every weekend, we're still losing people to impaired driving and all these other causes'

RCMP Sgt. Mark Hume has been with the traffic services unit for 10 years and has been investigating collisions for 12. (CBC)

Manitoba RCMP are again issuing a plea for drivers to change their behaviours behind the wheel following what has been another deadly weekend on highways in the province.

Six people died in collisions across the province this past weekend — four as a result of drivers going the wrong way on divided highways — and RCMP believe alcohol was a factor in two of the crashes.

"It's sad that every weekend, we're still losing people to impaired driving and all these other causes," said RCMP traffic services Sgt. Mark Hume. "I don't understand what people are thinking."

On Friday night, two men from MacGregor, Man., died after a pickup truck driving east in the westbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway near the town slammed into a van. Hume said alcohol is being probed as a factor.

Farther west, a 27-year-old Brandon man died after the pickup truck he was driving hit the back of a semi-trailer on the same highway in the rural municipality of Cornwallis. RCMP said alcohol was not involved but are still investigating what led to the crash.

Two women died Sunday morning on Highway 75 south of Winnipeg after two cars collided head-on. RCMP said one of the cars was travelling in the wrong direction on the divided highway. Speed and alcohol are believed to be factors, police said. 

Hume said a sixth person, a pedestrian, died after a hit-and-run in Berens River, Man. Police are still looking for the vehicle and driver involved.

The six deaths bring Manitoba's highway fatality total to 92 so far in 2016. Last year at this time, 61 people had died on Manitoba highways. 

Drivers not getting the message

Hume has been with the traffic services unit for 10 years and has been a collision investigator for 12. He has had to tell countless families that a loved one has died and wishes people would just get the message to change their behaviours. 

"I just think there is too many people say, 'It's not going to happen to me.' They know the message is out there," Hume said. "They believe in the message. They think it will happen to other people and they just honestly think [it] won't happen to them.

"These people have killed innocent people."

Hits close to home

Hume said his unit, based in Brandon, Man., is changing the way they police as a result of the crashes. Officers will focus more attention on areas that have seen a number of crashes and also focus more on behaviour, such as impaired driving, that leads to crashes. 

As someone who grew up in rural Manitoba and still has family living in the southwest, Hume said the number of crashes hits that much closer to home. 

"My family is not worried about being that drunk driver endangering themselves, but they're the innocent person that is driving down the road that might get hit by the drunk driver," Hume said. 

"We simply need to reduce this," he added. "I don't know how to get the message through to people more." 

with files from Pat Kaniuga

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