A pickup truck collided with several pedestrians in Amqui, Quebec, approximately 640km northeast of Montreal, leaving two dead and nine injured. The driver, a 38-year-old man initially fled the scene after the incident but later turned himself into the police.
According to officials, the incident happened a little after 3 p.m. on Monday, in front of a local microbrewery in the municipality of Saint-Benoit. Allegedly, the pickup truck hit a group of pedestrians who were walking along Route 132. He then fled the scene and hit another group of pedestrians down the street.
Two men, one in his 60s and another in his 70s, were pronounced dead at the hospital. Nine others were injured, including two, who were transported to the hospital via plane for serious injuries. A code orange was also issued at the local Amqui hospital due to the number of injured people. However, the ages of the victims have not yet been released.
The province’s integrated health and social services center also deployed psychological support to the scene of the incident as many witnesses were in shock. Gilles Turmel, the spokesperson for the authority, also confirmed that psychological support will be given to individuals at the hospital.
In response to the incident, Pascal Bérubé, the National Assembly member for the area, also canceled his plans to participate in the legislature on Tuesday and traveled to Amqui, a small town of approximately 6,000 people. He also said on Twitter that he has been in communication with Francois Bonnardel, Quebec’s public security minister.
In a subsequent radio interview, Bérubé revealed that he received some “very disturbing information” about the collision regarding the number of deaths and injured individuals.
According to Geneviève Guilbault, the deputy premier of Quebec, it’s still too early to know whether or not the driver was hitting the pedestrians intentionally. However, she stated that the incident reminded her of the Laval tragedy last month, where a bus driver deliberately crashed into a daycare, which resulted in two deaths.
Alain Gilbert, a trucker who was driving in the area, told officials that noticed an ambulance racing up behind him on Monday. He pulled to the side to let it pass and several minutes later, arrived at the collision site at approximately 3:15 p.m. He later told Radio-Canada that he saw at least four individuals on the ground across a span of 500 meters. He also saw police officers performing CPR on victims.
Another witness, Chantal Poirer, who works in a shop nearby, saw four people on the ground when she and her co-workers drew open the curtain. She quickly ran outside and stayed with one of the victims.