Snow removal trucks kill 3 in Montreal

Feb 4, 2009 | Articles

Passersby watched in horror yesterday morning as an elderly couple was struck down in the city’s core by a giant snow-removal truck.

By: Andrew Chung QUEBEC BUREAU CHIEF, Published on Wed Feb 04 2009

MONTREAL–Passersby watched in horror yesterday morning as an elderly couple was struck down in the city’s core by a giant snow-removal truck.

Then, just as police were describing the accident as tragic, it happened again in the afternoon.

Another senior citizen, another big truck, another death.

The freakish coincidence, police spokesperson Olivier Lapointe said, was an “exceptional situation.”

Montreal’s snow woes just keep getting worse.

The city was being roundly blasted for its seemingly ineffective snow removal; now, three people are dead as a result of its efforts.

In the first mishap, the 72-year-old man was killed instantly. Ambulance service spokesperson Bart Panarello said the woman, 71, “was also crushed under the wheels, so we had to have the fire department help us move the truck.”

Once freed, she was rushed across the street to Nôtre-Dame hospital to no avail.

In the afternoon, the same type of truck – with a long box in back to hold snow augured from the street – hit a 76-year-old woman in the northern borough of Ahuntsic on a narrow street.

She died on the spot with massive head injuries.

Both trucks – run by subcontractors – were turning at the time.

Police were still investigating, but Lapointe said it appears as as if the pedestrians had the right-of-way.

The truck drivers were taken to hospital suffering from shock, he added. Charges against them have not yet been determined.

Mayor Gérald Tremblay urged Montrealers to be vigilant.

“This is a true tragedy,” Tremblay said. “It’s not one person, it’s three people.”

Before yesterday, there had been just three snow-clearing related deaths in the last four years.

The mayor said city hall sends safety guidelines to all 19 arrondissements – or boroughs – doing snow removal.

The winter’s above-average snowfall had already created tensions. When the city’s snow czar, the mayor’s brother Marcel Tremblay, suggested people should simply wear crampons on their shoes, he was dumped from the position.

During a recent big storm, many plow operators in nine boroughs stopped working to protest not being paid overtime.


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