CANMORE, Alta. — Despite the valiant efforts of passersby, three people died Thursday afternoon after their SUV veered off a country road and plunged into the icy waters of a reservoir at Canmore, Alta., near the entrance to Banff National Park.
RCMP Sgt. Tim Taniguchi said the Ford Escape was carrying two adult males and two adult females.
“One adult female managed to escape from the vehicle at the time of the incident,” he said. “This female was picked up by other people travelling on the road and taken to Canmore Hospital.
“Two other people travelling on the road stopped, entered the water and pulled out two occupants from the SUV.”
But the vehicle was submerged on its side in about six feet of water and Canmore fire chief Todd Sikorsky said though the rescuers did CPR until emergency crews arrived, it was too late.
“On our arrival, the three occupants of the vehicle had no pulse,” he said.
The accident took place on a rural road next to the Spray Lake Reservoir.
“It was kind of a dirt, gravel road and had snow on it, but it’s too early to speculate whether road conditions were a factor in the incident,” said Taniguchi. “I can tell you where the incident took place, there was a curve in the road.”
Roads in the Calgary region have been icy over the last couple of days, with several accidents reported on the Deerfoot Trail, the city’s main freeway.
The woman who survived suffered only minor injuries and was released from hospital later Thursday night.
Few details were known about the victims, but Global News said they were in their 40s and 50s and were not from the Canmore area.
Sikorksy said it’s believed the people who dived into the icy cold water in an effort to rescue the victims were local wilderness guides who just happened to be passing by.
“They should definitely be celebrated for their heroic efforts,” he said. “They put themselves in peril to try and save a life. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for the patients involved, but the effort was valiant.”
Police were working late Thursday to pull the SUV out of the water and figure out why the vehicle went off the road.
“It’s shaken the detachment up,” said Sgt. Brad Freer of the Canmore RCMP. “We’re doing the best we can here to get the job finished.”