Violent crash leaves Hills driver in hospital
A 19-year-old Gatineau Hills driver is in hospital after he allegedly sped through the village and collided with another vehicle in a violent crash Dec. 8.
The crash happened just after 7 p.m. on Riverside Drive. Witnesses said they saw a silver Honda Civic speeding through the village before it slammed into a black BMW near the green train bridge. The other vehicle’s driver, 62-year-old Michael Ross, sustained minor injuries in the crash.
“The car hit me on the driver’s side and all the airbags deployed,” said a shaken Ross, just one day after the accident. “I did not hear any screeching of brakes on his part. The impact was violent enough that, if the side airbag had not deployed, my head would have hit the side window and I would have sustained a severe head injury.”
Ross said he has some bruising and some chest pain, but the emotional toll the crash took on his mental state has been far more severe than his physical injuries.
“I immediately was in shock more than fear,” said Ross. “I spent most of the night replaying the incident and understanding how much worse it could have been.”
According to MRC des Collines Police, the 19-year-old man was ejected from his car and taken to hospital, where he was initially listed in critical condition. His condition has been upgraded to stable, according to police spokesperson Josée Forest. Police said that alcohol and speed were factors in the crash, and charges are expected for the 19-year-old, who is recovering in hospital.
Katherine Rousseau was walking her dog in the village just before the crash, when she said she saw the silver Honda rip down Chemin Riverside and zoom past her toward oncoming traffic. When the car didn’t slow down, and she heard a loud bang, she said she feared the worst.
“He wasn’t slowing down, but I could see cars coming from across the bridge, and you could see that his car started to slide. There must have been black ice, plus he was going really fast,” said Rousseau, adding that she estimated the car was going over 100 km/h.
“We didn’t actually see the crash, but we heard everything, and we thought, ‘Oh my god, somebody must have died,’ because he was just going so fast. It was really loud. Like a big boom. Almost like 100 balloons popping in your ears at the same time.”
When Rousseau and her husband arrived at the scene, they said they saw the 19-year-old man lying on the ground, “writhing” in pain, but he was conscious and speaking with first responders on the scene. He was later rushed to hospital, where he remains in stable condition.
The crash sent Ross’ car into the guard rail on the bridge, rendering it undrivable with extensive damage. Both wheels had been ripped off and the entire driver’s side of the car was smashed in. Ross was trapped in his vehicle until fire crews could free him.
Ross said he had seconds to react as the car in front of him narrowly missed the speeding driver. He said he wonders how bad things could have been if they had collided head-on.
“I then saw an oncoming white sedan in the opposing traffic lane, obviously going very fast, maybe 80-100 km/h, start veering out of control, going from side to side as if it were overcompensating each time, infringing on my lane and continuing to sway side to side,” said Ross about the sedan which turned out to be silver, not white. “I braked and pulled to the side, slowing to essentially a standstill.” The car slammed into him and sent him spiraling off into the guard rail.
Wakefield resident Nathalie Stringer was in the car behind and said she saw the 19-year-old driver slam into Ross’s car, which sent both vehicles spiraling in opposite directions. She said she has never seen a car driving that fast in the village and agreed with other witnesses that the 19-year-old was moving faster than 100 km/h.
“I have no idea how he didn’t hit me,” said Stringer, who said she was still shaking while speaking with the Low Down five days after the crash. “He hit the car directly in front of me, and then I saw lights coming toward me way too fu**ing fast. I’ve never been so scared in my life.” Stringer said the collision sent a loud bang through the village, but the ensuing silence was deafening. “It was surreal.” Stringer was physically uninjured in the ordeal, but said it took her two hours to compose herself enough to drive home.
Ross told the Low Down that he was angry that the young driver decided to drink and drive, essentially risking his and others’ lives. Drinking and driving has been a consistent challenge in the Hills, as police have already caught 63 drunk drivers as of September, which is on par with 83 DUIs in the Hills last year.
“I suspect he was drunk out of his mind,” said Ross. “The courts will probably charge him with attempted manslaughter. He literally tried to kill me by deciding to drink that much and get behind the wheel.”
Forest said that speeding and DUI charges are likely to come following the results of a blood test. Police have not released the name of the 19-year-old driver. Police said they are continuing to investigate.