While 300 people were trapped on Highway 13 all night, the Montreal Fire Department (SSIM) said it had never received an official request for assistance. Rather, it was a chief operating officer who decided to go to the scene around 4:30 am to help motorists.
At approximately 2:30 this morning, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) advised SSIM that its assistance might be required to provide assistance on Highway 13, where many cars were immobilized. The police force said that they should be refining their response plan.
Without news for two hours, the head of the operations of the firefighters decided around 4:30 to go with the three trucks of the barracks 64 of Lachine to see the situation. Earlier today it had been mentioned that the application had arrived late, but it had never been made. “It’s on his own initiative,” says Christian Legault, SSIM operations chief, about his colleague’s intervention overnight.
It was only at that point that the magnitude of the situation was noted. More than 300 vehicles were immobilized, some with children on board. They were mainly families who came back from holidays and were thus taken by surprise by the storm. Bottles of water, which usually serve to quench the firefighters during their interventions, were distributed to the castaways of the storm.
The fire brigade brought a bus equipped with a toilet to allow people stuck since the day before to relieve themselves. About thirty people also agreed to be evacuated to a Lachine community center as their vehicle broke down and could no longer keep warm. The others preferred to remain inside their vehicle. The abandoned vehicles were towed earlier this morning.
“It is unacceptable that people were taken in their vehicle 13-14 hours. I understand that there has been pile-up and all this, but we need to ask why so much time, “deplored this morning the Mayor Denis Coderre. It is all the more surprising that the northbound lanes were cleared for their part. It is all the more surprising that the northbound lanes were cleared for their part.
The vehicles got bogged down in the snow. Some motorists eventually ran out of fuel or dropped out of the car. At 9am, a few motorists were able to get back on the road and shortly before 11am, the tracks were completely cleared.
According to the Sûreté du Québec explained to La Presse , the weather conditions caused the immobilization of the cars which lasted long enough for the snow to accumulate on the road, causing a stalemate.
However, the first vehicles stopped around 5 pm yesterday. Karim Mirshak witnessed the clash.
“The accident involved a total of five vehicles. One was apart and the other four were stuck together head-to-tail, “he explained in an e-mail to La Presse .
“The snow had accumulated a lot due to the lack of traffic to buffer it and the conditions were perilous.”
A woman told the 98.5 FM that she had been “locked up” on a bus for nearly ten hours on the 13th.
The vehicle was supposed to go to the Lionel-Groulx terminus, at about 9:00 pm, but it was caught in the snow, said Marie-Christine Tremblay, who said the firefighters finally rescued the passengers around 7:00 this morning.
A man in his fifties spent the night in his van with only food an apple. He told our photographer that he preferred to stay in his vehicle so that he would not be towed. He does not understand how the rescue operation could have taken so much time.
Emmanuel Dionne spent the night at the office rather than sleeping in his car on the highway. The man came home from work at around 7:45 pm, when he came up against a monster cork when he took the 13th. He said he had seen several road exits. Heavy trucks blocked the way. It took four hours to cover the 500 meters leading to the next exit. He had almost no gas. The snow almost prevented him from passing. He says he’s been lucky enough to get his way through the car. “A little more and I left my car there.”
He returned to the office, nearby, where he spent the night on a couch, unable to go home in Verdun.
This morning, he is completely alone at work. The company is closed due to snow, but it has not yet managed to return home.