A scene of carnage on the 401 east of Gananoque.
Stunned motorists wander around the accident scene… recording images of twisted metal, spilled cargo and chaos.
One of 3 crashes in the same vicinity during whiteout conditions… a winter nightmare that left one truck driver dead, and authorities scrambling to clean up a major chemical spill.
Police still aren’t sure what led to this massive chain reaction crash involving about 30 vehicles, including a dozen transports.
Sandra Barr/ Leeds Grenville OPP:
“We won’t know that until our investigators, our technical traffic investigators,re- constructionists… until they can get to the scene — and they can’t because of the toxic substance.”
In the aftermath, truck driver Ian Melville, a 45 year old father of 4 from Hamilton, was pronounced dead in hospital.
He was hauling toxic cargo in the first of 3 crashes that occured in blizzard-like conditions…
“When emergency crews discovered the dangerous chemical spill a hazmat team was brought in. The toxic substance — fluorosilicic acid. It’s known to be an extremely corrosive and can burn skin on contact. It can also cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory system.”
A Queen’s chemistry expert says on its own and contained the chemical isn’t that harmful — but it becomes toxic when exposed to water and the elements…
Alex Cormier/Chemistry PhD Student, Queen’s:
“It can actually eat through your skin, in its liquid form and actually interact with your bones as well. Inhaling it– you would be able to feel it burning your lungs.”
About 30 civilians and first responders were treated for possible exposure… during a Code Orange at Kingston General Hospital.
Paul Charbonneau/Chief, Frontenac Paramedic Services:
“The decontamination process is to strip your clothes off and you have to shower. They have the ramp at the top of KGH there and then they were assessed by the physician.”
Those assessed were later discharged from hospital.
But their clothes had to be destroyed — even the emergency vehicles used to transport them have to be decontaminated.
The local mayor is calling for better safeguards when hauling hazardous cargo.
Joe Baptista/Mayor, Leeds and The Thousand Islands:
“When situations like this happen, it really exemplifies that there’s a lot of hazardous materials traveling through our communities.”
As police wait for the chemical spill to be cleaned up to start their own investigation, truckers and other commuters faced a second day of detours on Canada’s busiest highway.