News Local

One person killed in Highway 17 crash

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

- First responders were calling Thursday's crash that claimed the life of a Pembroke man one of the worst accidents they've ever seen.

Nicholas Carter-Leedham, 20, was killed when the car he was driving collided with a tractor-trailer transport on Highway 17 one kilometre west of Greenwood Road at around 7 a. m.

Police said the 1992 Nissan was travelling eastbound when it collided with a westbound tractor-trailer driven by Bernard Bruyere, 41, of Grand Remoux, Quebec.

The force of the impact tore the front end of the car completely off and hurled it 50 metres from the main wreckage. The tractor-trailer's cab slid up onto a snowbank collapsing on top of the Nissan demolishing the vehicle.

Mr. Bruyere was not injured. Mr. Carter-Leedham was the lone occupant of the Nissan.

Firefighters from Whitewater Region's Cobden station who were responding to the scene were astonished at what they saw.

"I've never seen a car cut like that. It was like a knife went through it," exclaimed Whitewater Fire Chief Wayne Heubner, a 34-year veteran of the department. "It's one of the worst accidents I've ever seen."

Members of the OPP Technical Traffic Collision Investigation Team were combing the site as part of the probe into the accident. Chief Heubner said road conditions were adverse at the time and may have contributed to the mishap.

The investigation is ongoing. Highway 17 was closed for more than 11 hours with eastbound traffic being diverted at Whitewater Road. Westbound vehicles were detoured at Greenwood Road.

Surveying the debris left scattered on the slick roadway, Chief Heubner added it's one of those calls that is difficult for firefighters who respond to a scene hoping to save a life.

"You can't do a thing," he said. "It's our worst nightmare."

During the night, the department had responded to two other accidents along Highway 17. At 5:30 a. m., the Cobden station was called after the back tires of a tractor-trailer caught fire on Highway 17 near Meath Hill. OPP were on the scene of that incident when the fatal collision occurred just west of their location.

Earlier, the department was dispatched to a two-vehicle crash on the highway at Haley Station Road 10 kilometres west of Renfrew. Police said a van collided with a tractor-trailer at around 12:12 a. m.

Firefighters had to extract the driver of the van, Gloria Sheppard, from the vehicle. She sustained serious injuries and was rushed to Renfrew Victoria General Hospital. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Gary Horwill, of Kapuskasing, Ontario, was not injured. Renfrew OPP spokeswoman Janice Sawbridge said no charges will be laid.

The investigating officer of the fatal accident is Constable Sonya Oleinikow of the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP Detachment.

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