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Dugald man taken into custody after several injured in Highway 59 collision

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A 40-year-old Dugald man was taken into custody by Selkirk RCMP following a two-vehicle collision on  Highway 59 Sunday night in front of the South Beach Casino, near Scanterbury, that left as many as six in hospital.

"Alcohol was considered to be a factor," said Const. Paul Human, of the Selkirk detachment, noting that charges are pending.

'Initial investigation indicates a 2001 Ford pickup truck pulling a boat traveling southbound struck a northbound 2012 Chevrolet Malibu that was turning west in the intersection', RCMP said.

The police investigation continues.

Chief of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation said the two-vehicle collision that left several residents in hospital – some in serious condition - will renew attempts by community leaders to reduce speed on the busy thoroughfare.

"It won’t be from lack of trying on our part," said Chief Jim Bear.

As many as six young Manitobans were taken to hospital after their car collided with a white pickup truck on Highway 59.

The group — which included two older youths, three young girls and a two-year-old toddler — were on their way to a soccer game at the recreational centre at the community, about 40 kilometres north of Winnipeg, when the crash occurred at around 8 p.m.

According to witnesses, the kids’ driver — a youth who works as a recreation director in the community — was crossing Hwy. 59 at Ocean Drive, near the South Beach Casino and Resort, with a green light when a white truck towing a boat collided with the car.

Witnesses say the truck, which was headed south, appeared to be going well over the posted speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour.

Within moments of the crash, friends and family raced to the scene to distribute blankets and comfort wounded children. The three girls and two older youths were taken to hospital, with several reportedly listed in critical condition. The two-year-old toddler appeared unharmed, although terrified.

"By God’s grace, he was fine," said Spring Abaunza, who saw the crash and called 911 as she and her husband rushed to the victims’ side.

The driver of the white truck did not appear to be injured.

Abaunza said this incident played on the community’s worst fears about that stretch of Hwy. 59, which passes by a school and through a residential area. Kids must cross the highway to reach the recreational centre, she said.

The speed had been reduced from 100 km/h. "That’s not good enough, obviously," Abaunza said. "There should also be crosswalks and another set of lights there, they need to put up radar, and they need to have checkstops, especially on weekends."

Abaunza hopes to raise the issue again at a Brokenhead band meeting — and hopes as the injured children recover, government takes steps to reduce the risk of a similar crash.

"There has to be something done," Abaunza said. "There’s been a lot of deaths on this highway, and it’s not noticed."

On Monday morning, Chief Bear said the band council was in the process of contacting family members to provide counselling. Counsellors would also be made available to students of the Tommy Prince School (K-to-9).

"That’s our immediate concern right now," he said.

Bear noted that efforts to lower the speed limit through Brokenhead – which is split in half by the highway – to 70 kilometres an hour have been rebuffed by the provincial Highways Department.

"There has been accidents in the past, for sure," he said. "It’s just a well-travelled highway."

However, Bear said the current speed limit is well posted, and if a driver simply runs a red light "what can we do? There’s lights there. Huge lights."

History

Updated on Monday, September 17, 2012 at 12:04 AM CDT: rewrite, adds witness info

September 17, 2012 at 9:25 AM: Updated

11:07 AM: Updated

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