MLA witnesses fatal crash
Airdrie-Chestermere MLA Rob Anderson says thinking about the details of a horrifying crash on Highway 2 near Innisfail that he witnessed on March 4 makes him ill.
“It was a terrible experience and I hope I don’t have to see any like this again,” he said.
Anderson was driving to Edmonton for the March 5 legislature meeting when he saw taillights in the southbound lanes. He realized the severity of the situation and kept pace with the driver of the Range Rover, while calling 911 and flashing his lights to notify oncoming drivers of the danger.
“I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Anderson said about warning other drivers. “I knew someone was going to be hit. I wanted to try to warn people that something was wrong and hope they would pull over and stop. Some did, but obviously, one didn’t.”
Near Innisfail a vehicle with five occupants hit the SUV head on. Four people were killed: Anthony Subong Castillon and Joey Flores Mangonon, both 35; Eden Dalu Biazon, 39 and Josefina Flores Velarde, 52. A fifth passenger, Josephine Gaila Tamondong, 28, was transported to Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital in critical condition.
Anderson said he got out of the vehicle and ran to the accident to help, but there was nothing he could do.
“At the end of the day, my thoughts are with the families,” he said.
Anderson said he estimates it took about 20 to 25 minutes for EMS and police to arrive on scene, but he admits it was hard to judge time.
“I’m going to reserve judgement,” he said. “When you are in a situation like that, every minute seems like an hour. I was hoping and praying that someone would come quickly. It didn’t work out in this case.”
He also said he will testify at the driver’s trial if he is asked.
“I filled out a police report and if they ask me, if they need me to, I will do so,” he said.
“I want to make sure justice is done. All I can do is say what I saw.”
The driver of the Range Rover, Tyler James Stevens, 29, suffered minor injuries in the collision. He faces 14 charges including impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failing to provide a breath sample.
Anderson has been told not to speak about the condition of the driver prior to trial, but he said drunk drivers need to be taken off of the road.
“He has been charged but hasn’t been found guilty and I respect that,” he said of the driver.
“However, folks who are inebriated are causing absolute carnage on our streets. We need to get those individuals off the street and not those who are far less dangerous.”
Anderson said he is against Premier Alison Redford’s legislation that will crack down on drivers with Blood Alcohol Contents (BAC) of between .05 and .08 that was passed on Dec. 6, 2011.
“We’ve only got so many resources, let’s focus them on what matters: Those who are blowing over 0.08,” he said.
“We need to increase enforcement and increase penalties.”