'They would have rolled over any car in the way': Fire chief thankful no one killed in crash

Two people have been treated for minor injuries following a crash that initially sent chills through witnesses and first responders.

It happened on Highway 3 at Quaker Road, just east of St. Thomas, Ont.

About 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Marj Groeneweg, who lives near the crash scene, heard alarming sounds.

"We heard the squealing of tires and then a boom. And then, a grating kind of noise went on for quite a while, like probably 30 seconds or so, but it just was really loud.”

Outside she witnessed the aftermath, an overturned transport truck towing a flatbed laying across the highway.

A short distance away, a minivan came to rest in a ditch. It had heavy damage to its passenger side, with a sliding door torn off during the collision.

Witnesses then called 911.

Central Elgin Fire Chief Murray Decorte picked up the details of the crash over his radio. He admits his heart sank.

“You always think the worst, and go, ‘This is going to be bad’.”

Upon arrival, the worst is what Decorte expected.

But, he was relieved to discover, both the driver of the transport and the minivan suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

“They were very lucky all the way around.”

Decorte's comment extends to anyone driving near the scene, as he believes further injury or death was possible because the transport lost its heavy load of two large round steel coils.

One came to rest on the roadway, the other in a ditch.

“Each one of those weighs about 36,000 pounds and they would roll over any car that was in the way.”

Thankfully that did not occur, but as highway crews prepare to repair a large gouge on the road caused by the coils, Groeneweg wonders if it is time for improved traffic control.

“I don’t know if traffic lights would help.”

According to OPP, the 59-year-old driver of the minivan has been charged with Careless Driving.

The eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 3 remain closed between Yarmouth Centre Road and Quaker Road to facilitate the removal of the CMV and the steel coils.