Crash kills senior in Low, Quebec

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by Trevor Greenway on June 3, 2010

Raymond Wilfrid Johnson, 65 of Cayamant, was killed May 28 after his Buick collided head-on with a semi truck in Low, Quebec.

Raymond Wilfrid Johnson, 65 of Cayamant, was killed May 28 after his Buick collided head-on with a semi truck in Low, Quebec.

A Cayamant man is dead after his car collided head-on with a semi-truck and trailer on Hwy 105 just south of Low, Quebec on the morning of May 28.

Raymond Wilfrid Johnson, 65, was pronounced dead at the Wakefield hospital, where he was transported by ambulance. Johnson was conscious when paramedics arrived shortly after 8 a.m., but he was trapped inside the car, forcing La Peche firemen to use the Jaws of Life to free him from the wreck.

The fatal crash occurred just past the Kingburger chip stand, a few kilometres south of Low. Johnson’s car, travelling south, apparently veered over the centre line before colliding with the truck.

June 2 front page

June 2 front page

The driver of the semi, 30-year-old Alain Berriault of Gatineau, said he saw the car cross into his lane, but there was nothing he could do. He said he saw Johnson bending over to reach for something in his car and he never looked up before their vehicles collided.

“When I saw the guy, he wasn’t looking,” said the truck driver, who was shaken but otherwise unhurt. “I don’t even think he knew he hit me.”

Berriault said he saw Johnson’s head smash into the steering wheel, and he knew the result would be bad.

“When he hit me, I saw the guy’s head hit really hard,” said Berriault, who helped police officers in their attempt to free Johnson from his mangled vehicle. He said Johnson was conscious, but definitely “out of it.”

Berriault said contact with the car on the driver’s side of the truck caused him to lose control. He just slammed on the brakes and hoped for the best. His truck came to a halt about 50 feet away, not far from a roadside house.

Luckily, Berriault said, the trailer was empty, as a full load would have caused him to skid much farther and possibly flip over. The extra weight could have easily added to the stopping distance, putting his truck through the living room of the nearby house.

A passenger in the truck, who was also unhurt, confirmed that Johnson bent down before the collision.

MRC des Collines police spokesperson Martin Fournel said officers found several pill containers strewn across the floor of Johnson’s vehicle and that he could have reacted to some sort of medical emergency, or that he may have just been distracted.

“The driver was bent over,” said Fournel. “Why? We don’t know. Was it a medical issue? Was he finding something?”

Fournel also said that investigators confirmed Johnson’s having crossed the centre line and the truck had “obviously no chance to avoid the impact.”

The collision also resulted in a diesel fuel leak from the truck, but a Ryan’s Garage worker emptied the tank before any serious damage occurred. Provincial environment officials inspected the crash site and tested wells nearby for possible contamination.

Police closed Hwy 105 to traffic in both directions until about 12:30 p.m.