Crash-site memorials at two central Alberta rail crossings were created for the victims of two recent fatal collisions.
Two women died, one at a rail crossing near Wetaskiwin on Sunday, and the other at a crossing near Ponoka on Monday.
On Sunday a 26-year-old woman was killed, and a young boy was injured, after a westbound SUV collided with a train at about 3:50 p.m. near Highway 2A and Township Road 470, about six km northwest of Wetaskiwin. The boy has since been released from hospital.
A memorial, with flowers and photos, has been set up at that crossing, and A GoFundMe account Support the tragic loss of Bree Gwynn was set up for her family to raise $7,000.
According to the GoFundMe account, Bree and Stephen have two young children: Austin who was injured in the collision, and Hailee. As of Wednesday afternoon, over $22,000 has been raised.
“Bree had a love for life like nobody else, she treasured each day and moment she shared with her loved ones,” the online fundraiser page states. “Bree was always there to lend a hand when someone needed help. Bree was always picking everyone up…”
Flowers were also placed at the site of the Ponoka-area rail crossing where a 26-year-old Ponoka woman died. She was the lone occupant of the vehicle that collided with a train at Township Road 424 near Highway 2A, about five km south of Ponoka.
RCMP Cpl. Susan Richter said Wednesday the causes of the collisions were still under investigation, but neither drugs nor alcohol were factors.
She said both crossings were functioning as they should and had good views around the crossings. The Ponoka crossing was not equipped with a traffic arm, but has lights that were working. The Wetaskiwin crossing was marked with signs only and no lights.
Few collisions have occurred at either crossing, she said.
Peter Hall, assistant CAO with Ponoka County, said the crossing near Ponoka has bells. The road is busy, but it is paved so dust isn’t an issue.
“I drive that road personally often. It’s got very good sightlines,” Hall said.
He said no one can figure out what happened that day.
“Our thoughts go out to the family,” Hall said.
Wetaskiwin County also expressed its condolences.
Jeff Chipley, assistant CAO with Wetaskiwin County, said some people have made inquiries about upgrading the crossing.
“We have encouraged people if they want to look at potential changes in that area to contact Alberta Transportation, contact the local MLA, contact Canadian Pacific Rail. We may be able to facilitate those connections. We’re certainly here to provide information to individuals,” Chipley said.
Canadian Pacific Railway is working with RCMP to investigate the collisions.
The collisions were also reported to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada which said they were classified as class 5 investigations with little likelihood of identifying new safety lessons that will advance transportation safety.
Class 5 investigations consist of data gathering with the data recorded for statistical reporting and future analysis. No report is produced following this type of investigation.