A family of four from the small community of Amisk, Alta. was killed in a highway crash near Hardisty Monday night, including two children.
All five people involved in the two-vehicle crash died.
RCMP say an SUV heading west on Highway 13 crossed the centre line just south of Hardisty at around 7 p.m. It collided head-on with a car heading east.
The SUV went into the ditch and caught fire. The driver – the only person in the vehicle – was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the driver of the SUV had not yet been identified but an autopsy would be performed later on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The car had four people inside: a 52-year-old father who was driving, a 44-year-old mother, their 12-year-old daughter and their nine-year-old son.
RCMP said all four were killed in the crash.
“Our thoughts are with the family members of the deceased and the community of Amisk during this extremely difficult time,” Cpl. Ronald Bumbry said.
“Very tragic situation. You could imagine the impact it has that a whole family is now gone from this community.”
Friends have identified the family as Tim, Michelle, Nicole and Shawn Carson. The sole person in the SUV was also from Amisk, friends tell Global News.
The Carson’s eldest daughter passed away last year at the age of 16, after being severely disabled since birth.
Kathy Neudorf told Global News she lived next door to the Carsons and had been friends with them for a decade.
“I’m pretty much in shock still,” she said on Tuesday. “Being that they were neighbours, we’d always have jokes across the fence. Now I know all of that isn’t going to be there anymore. I think the reality of that hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Neudorf said her and the Carsons’ daughters were good friends who had sleepovers and played sports together.
“It will feel very empty not seeing them come home and not texting with them,” she said. “Or not having play dates anymore or her calling to check on my house or me checking on hers.”
“It’s devastated our community,” Amisk Mayor Bill Rock said.
“For a small community of 200 people, you have five residents of your community decimated in one foul shot. It’s terrible.”
Rock said Tim Carson had actually DJ’ed his wedding and Michelle was the president of the village’s library board and ran the post office and the bank. He added the couple’s 20th anniversary was coming up soon.
Unfortunately, in a small community, we heard who it was,” Rock said. “But of course we were hoping it was just a rumour and there were mistakes made.
“The biggest thing is our community will do whatever it has to do to heal,” he added while choking up. “It’s not… you know… going to be easy.”
“Everybody knows them,” Neudorf added. “They were just always friendly to everybody.”
The two children attended Hughenden Public School, which has a student population of 143.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of two of our students as a result of an accident,” Bob Allen, the superintendent of Buffalo Trail Public Schools said.
“The school community is close knit and this tragedy has had a significant impact on many of the students and staff… Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families of those involved in this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with them and the school community as they grieve.”
The district said its Crisis Response Team will provide support and counselling as long as necessary.
RCMP and a collision analyst continue to investigate the crash. Traffic on Highway 13 and Range Road 92 was rerouted for several hours after the collision.
Killam RCMP victim services attended the scene and continue to assist with the collision.
Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Bumbry said police had not been able to track down any potential eyewitnesses to the crash.
“The people that initially called in regards to our complainants with this situation, were passerbys,” he said. “So they attended the scene or witnessed the scene after it had already occurred.
“We are asking if anybody did witness this collision to contact the RCMP Killam detachment.”
Mounties said road and weather conditions do not appear to be factors.