Canada -- Edmonton’s Liberian community is mourning the death of three women killed in a car accident near Lloydminster early Friday morning.
Maidstone RCMP was called to a two-vehicle collision on Highway 16, approximately five kilometres east of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan at 3:10 a.m. Friday.
Police said a heavy-duty, flat-deck truck collided with a minivan in the eastbound lane.
There were four women in the minivan: two of them, aged 37 and 35, died on scene; a 53-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries later; and a 32-year-old woman was air-lifted to an Edmonton hospital.
Her condition is unknown, RCMP said.
The truck involved in the fatal collision was reported stolen in the Lloydminster area the previous night, RCMP said.
The occupants fled before Police arrived to the scene of the crash, but a 26-year-old male was located and is in custody.
Liberians in Edmonton, a small and tight-knit community, are heartbroken and consoling each other.
“We lost our sisters, we lost our friends, we lost the aunts to our children,” Sophia Savice told CTV News.
The community is identifying Glorious Decontee David, Jeanette Wright and Eva Fatu Tumbay as the three victims. They were on their way to Minnesota to visit family and friends.
Decontee David’s husband, Glory Blamo – the pastor of the church this community attends – is still in shock.
“I don’t believe it yet because I haven’t seen a body,” he said. “They were going to come back Sunday. That’s why we’re still waiting for them.
Blamo said his family and friends in the Liberian community were deeply saddened by the news.
“From the day we got the information, people were fainting, people were collapsing, people were going crazy.”
Kanton Wright’s sister Jeannete died in the collision, but his daughter Janet Wright Gaye is in the hospital in critical, but stable condition.
“It has been quite difficult for me, but the fact that my daughter is alive gives me a little bit of hope,” Wright said. “Words are inadequate to describe the losses we feel in this community right now.”
‘You would have thought for sure he had him’
A Lloydminster man said the crash that killed the three women could have been avoided.
Curtis Byford called RCMP when three suspicious trucks parked near his rural property in the Lloydminster area. Byford said the occupants got out, piled up into the truck that wound up killing the three Edmonton women, and drove away.
About 40 minutes later, Maidstone RCMP showed up, and when Byford was talking to the officers, the same truck came back.
“I told Police: ‘That’s the third vehicle,’” Byford said. “They darted after him.”
Minutes later, Police came back empty-handed. They told Byford they had to call off the search for safety reasons.
“They were just so frustrated,” Byford said. “You could see it, you could hear it, you could feel it. The one guy said, basically, you know, ‘I want to do my job, the community wants me to do my job, but I can’t’.”
Maidstone RCMP explained their decision on Saturday in a news release.
"The pursuit was terminated in accordance with the RCMP’s Emergency Vehicle Operation policy," F Division Commanding Officer and Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said.
"Given that pursuits pose a serious risk to the public, the RCMP developed national policy that outlines the requirements for initiating a pursuit, the ongoing monitoring and assessing, and the decision to continue or terminate a pursuit.”
The collision occurred 35 minutes after RCMP terminated the pursuit, Police said.
A friend of the victim doesn’t blame Police for the deaths.
“Policy is policy,” Emmanuel Savice told CTV News.
“The RCMP knows better. They have been in different situations and they thought to quit the chase would have avoided such a tragedy.”
But Byford thinks this policy favours the people Police should be after.
“The criminals know it,” he said. “They absolutely know, ‘if we go so fast, for so long, we’re home free’.”
With files from Angela Jung and Jeremy Thompson