Fatal crash leaves firefighters shaken

Terry Roberts
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Collision on the TCH near Whitbourne ties up traffic for hours

Capt. Ray Gosse of the Whitbourne Volunteer Fire Department was visibly shaken after spending nearly three hours Tuesday at a fatal accident scene on the section of Trans-Canada Highway that runs through the town.

Firefighters and paramedics work at the scene of a fatal traffic accident Tuesday on the Trans-Canada Highway near Whitbourne.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Gosse told reporters shortly after 2 p.m.

Gosse chose his words carefully as he attempted to describe what greeted him and five other members of the brigade as they arrived at the accident scene, noting the driver was “obviously deceased.”

With assistance from RCMP officers and medical personnel, all of whom are paid and highly trained, Gosse and his fellow volunteers were given the unpleasant task of removing the body of the motorist from the mangled remains of a sport-utility vehicle (SUV) that had veered over the yellow line and collided with a commercial tractor-trailer just before 11:30 a.m.

The firefighters used extrication equipment to remove the victim, who police say is not from the province.

It was the worst accident scene Gosse has responded to in his three years as a volunteer firefighter, and he had high praise for the efforts of those at his side.

“It was my first fatality scene, but we just tried to do our best,” said Gosse.

He described the brigade as “very, very capable and qualified,” a department that practices regularly for such emergencies, since it is located close to the Trans-Canada Highway.

RCMP Sgt. Randy Pack said his initial investigation leads him to believe the smaller vehicle veered into the path of the commercial truck. The driver of the larger vehicle was not hurt in the collision.

The tragedy occurred on a busy section of the TCH, just west of the visitor information centre. The speed limit along that stretch is reduced to 70 km/h.

Pack said driving conditions were ideal at the time, and an investigation into the cause is ongoing. He could not say whether speed was a factor.

The highway was closed for almost three hours, with traffic backed up for long distances on both sides of the accident scene.

Pack said everyone involved in the response will have access to “critical incident stress responders.”

The Compass

Organizations: RCMP, The Compass

Geographic location: Whitbourne, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Zack Parrell
    May 14, 2014 - 08:52

    Here's an article that just shows the pure ignorance towards Emergency workers and dealing with PTSD. This article is all about how the unpaid, volunteer firefighters found it difficult to deal with their first fatality. It states that they were given the task of removing the body with the assistance of paid, highly trained paramedics and police officers. So, The Telegram, does this mean because I get compensation to attend to a call with a fatality that it can't affect me? Just because we are highly trained we can't have emotions or struggle on a daily basis with critical stress and PTSD? Who's to say this wasn't the first motor vehicle collision fatality that the RCMP officers or Paramedics attended as well? If this call happened on the outer ring road and SJRFD responded, would they not have to cope because they're paid to be there as well? This article is a prime example of the pure arrogance towards PTSD and critical stress of all Emergency workers, paid or unpaid. We all have emotions and everyone has to cope in their own way. I guess on the next call where I have to deal with a fatality or tell the family members we can't do any more for their loved one, I'll just haul my pay stub out of my pocket, smile, and check my emotions at the door.

    • Moderator
      May 14, 2014 - 10:51

      To be fair, I don't think this article was trying to discriminate between volunteer and paid responders. It says "everyone involved in the response will have access to 'critical incident stress responders,'" which surely reflects it was an equally traumatic event for anyone and everyone responding to the scene.