Pickup truck driver hits multiple pedestrians, kills 2 in Amqui, Que.
Provincial police say 38-year-old driver was arrested for leaving scene
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Two people are dead and nine others are injured after a pickup truck hit pedestrians in Amqui, Que., about 640 kilometres northeast of Montreal, Quebec provincial police say.
The driver, a 38-year-old man, allegedly fled the scene after the collision but later turned himself in and was arrested at the Amqui police station, according to a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).
The incident occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on Monday in front of the Captive microbrewery on Saint-Benoît Boulevard.
"The driver of the pickup truck hit pedestrians who were walking along Route 132. He continued on his way for a certain distance and hit other pedestrians," said Sgt. Claude Doiron.
Two men, one in his 70s and another in his 60s, have died. Two people have serious injuries. Some victims were transferred by plane to a hospital in Quebec City, but others were treated locally.
Gilles Turmel, a spokesperson for the local health authority, said a code orange was issued at the Amqui hospital because there were six or more victims.
Psychological support sent to collision site
The CISSS du Bas-Saint-Laurent has also deployed psychological support directly to the scene of the collision because there are many witnesses in shock, Turmel said.
Similar support will be provided at the hospital, he added.
The member of the National Assembly for the area, Pascal Bérubé, cancelled his plans to be at the legislature on Tuesday and headed to Amqui — a town of roughly 6,000 people in his riding of Matane-Matapédia.
Bérubé, who is with the Parti Québécois, said on Twitter that he is in communication with the province's public security minister, François Bonnardel.
In an interview on the Radio-Canada radio program Même fréquence, Bérubé said he has obtained "very disturbing information" about the incident.
"I am told of deaths. I am told of injured pedestrians, children," he said. "It is a terrible tragedy."
Provincial police were not providing details about the ages of those injured Monday afternoon.
Witnesses see several victims on ground
Amqui Mayor Sylvie Blanchette, who arrived on the scene of the collision, said she is there for citizens
"We know that they will need support and that is what we will do in the next few hours and the next few days," she said.
About two hours after the collision, Quebec's deputy premier, Geneviève Guilbault, told Radio-Canada that it was too early to say if the driver intentionally hit the pedestrians, but the incident reminded her of what happened last month in Laval — where police say a city bus was deliberately smashed into a daycare, killing two children.
The fact that the CISSS is quickly sending psychological support to the scene is a clear sign that this is a grave tragedy, she said, but it's still unclear just how many casualties there are.
Trucker Alain Gilbert was driving when he noticed an ambulance, sirens blaring, racing up behind him on Monday, he said. He pulled over to let the ambulance pass, and then a short time later, found himself at the scene of the collision at around 3:15 p.m.
He told Radio-Canada that he saw at least four adults lying on the ground across a distance of 500 metres. He saw an SQ police officer performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on one victim. He said there were police and other first responders on the scene already and more coming to help as he watched.
Another witness, Chantal Poirier, said she works nearby. She and her colleagues drew open the curtain and "I saw one, two, three, four people on the ground."
She went outside to a victim and "I just stayed with her," she said.
"It's shocking what happened in Amqui," said Premier François Legault on Twitter. "All my thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. Thank you to the first responders on the ground."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also reacted on Twitter, saying his heart heart "is with the people of Amqui, Quebec today."
"As we learn more about the tragic events that have taken place, I'm keeping everyone affected in my thoughts," Trudeau said. "To the first responders: thank you for acting quickly, courageously, and professionally."
with files from Radio-Canada