By Greg Price
On July 21, a young woman lost her life in a tragic car accident in a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Highway 526 and Highway 36.
If not for the actions of a person who prefers to remain anonymous along with two other individuals, the loss of life could have been even greater.
As a result of the collision, the SUV rolled, and a car caught fire. The car was traveling eastbound on Highway 526 when it collided with the SUV which was traveling northbound on Highway 36.
All three occupants of the SUV attended an area hospital with minor injuries.
The 17-year-old driver of the car was transported to an area hospital with injuries, and the 18-year-old female passenger was pronounced deceased.
Brian Schafer, fire chief for the M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Department, has a responsibility to attend emergency scenes in which he is either in command or in support of on-scene commanders, and asked that M.D. of Taber council give letters of commendation to a handful of individuals who aided in the accident.
“There was a person who was sitting at scene, watching everything unfold. The whole scene was like right beside him. If it wasn’t for that young guy, probably the driver of the car would have died,” said Schafer at M.D. of Taber’s council meeting on Aug. 22.
Braden Gertzen, Erwin Claassen and the one other citizen who wanted to remain anonymous were highlighted in Schafer’s recommendation with their work at the accident scene.
“The car was on fire. They grabbed some fire extinguishers and the first person (anonymous) used his steel toe boots to punch out the window and he pulled her out of the window. The car was getting worse for being on fire,” said Schafer. “These people are heroes.”
In written correspondence from Schafer to council he noted ‘without any fire or medical training behind them, three citizens showed no hesitation in regards to their own personal safety as (they) attempted to pull the driver out of a burning vehicle which had been involved in a high speed, two-car collision. The door of the vehicle was jammed shut so they had to break the driver’s side window through which they were able to pull the driver to safety.’
Simultaneously, two members of the M.D. of Taber Regional Fire Department, J.P. Claassen (Station 5 Vauxhall Regional Fire Authority) and Ms. Chantal Bacho (Station 4 Taber), were driving by and stopped to perform CPR for the passenger who was identified as the most serious patient in need of care until EMS arrived. Tragically, the young 18-year-old woman died from her injuries at the scene.
“We are grateful for the actions of those who immediately jumped into action. If it wasn’t for the quick reaction, it is entirely possible that additional fatalities may have occurred that night. The Vauxhall Regional Fire Department and the M.D. of Taber regional Fire service sends their condolences to the family of the young lady who perished that night.”
“As well, we offer our thoughts and prayers to the driver of the vehicle who is still recovering from their injuries. We gratefully acknowledge the response of the Vauxhall Regional Fire Department, the Enchant Fire Department, AHS EMS crews from Vauxhall, Taber and Brooks as well as the Taber/Vauxhall RCMP” continued Schafer’s written correspondence.
M.D. council passed unanimously a motion to issue letters of commendation to Braden Gertzen, Erwin Claassen, J.P. Claassen, Chantal Bacho and the anonymous member at large for their actions in aiding the victim of the two-vehicle high-speed collision.
“One person wants to remains anonymous. I already told Derrick (Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber) who it is, he just doesn’t want it to get out to the public. He just said he hopes someone in the public would do that for him one day if he was in the same situation,” said Schafer.