CTV.ca News Staff
Date: Fri. May. 14 2010 6:40 PM ET
A pickup truck plowed into a group of cyclists riding along a rural Quebec highway Friday, killing three and leaving three others badly injured.
The collision left scraps of wreckage, mangled cycling gear and shattered bike frames were strewn across a four-lane stretch of highway in Rougemont, just south of Montreal.
The five female and one male cyclist were members of a biking club that was reportedly training for a triathlon. They were believed to be on their way to a weekend training exercise in Sherbrooke, Que.
One woman was killed outright by the crash and two others died soon afterwards in hospital. The three survivors, one man and two women, were in serious condition but officials said they did not have life-threatening injuries.
Police said several passing motorists stopped to administer first aid to the stricken cyclists, including the driver of the truck who struck the group.
“The driver of the vehicle in question was a man and alcohol is not a factor,” said provincial police Sgt. Claude Denis. “He was not injured and will meet with investigators in a little while to give details to shine a light on this tragedy.”
Denis said weather does not appear to have been a factor: “It was cloudy but it wasn’t raining.”
Police shut down Highway 112 in both directions while they investigated the crash, using orange tape to cordon off a scene littered with bicycle parts, helmets, sunglasses and even a sports watch scattered across a large area.
They also questioned the driver, but no charges have been laid.
Police have not released the names of any of the dead or injured, but all are believed to be members of Le Club de Triathlon St. Lambert.
The accident occurred on a straight stretch of the highway, just before 10 a.m., when the eastbound pick-up truck came up behind the cyclists, who were also heading east in single file along the shoulder of the road.
The speed limit on that part of the highway is 90 kilometres an hour, but residents said that was rarely respected and several called that stretch of road particularly dangerous for cycling.
“It’s very dangerous. The cars drive too fast,” said Bruno Marcil, an avid cyclist who travels often along the road.
“It doesn’t surprise me they got hit, the cars drive so fast here.”
While there is a gravel bicycle path off to the side of the highway, the cyclists were riding road bikes with narrow tires unsuitable for gravel paths.
Denis said it was unclear how many of the cyclists were hit directly by the vehicle.
“Our accident investigators are there trying to figure out what happened,” he said. “There was a chain reaction.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Herb Luft