Two people are dead and nine injured after a pickup truck hit several pedestrians in downtown Amqui on Monday in the Lower St. Lawrence region of Quebec.
The driver, a 38-year-old man police say is “from the area,” then turned himself in to Quebec provincial police (SQ). He has been arrested for hit-and-run causing death. A witness said victims were spread over a distance of hundreds of metres.
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Police say the accused is facing charges of dangerous driving causing death.
“For now, the investigation tends to show that the collision was a voluntary act committed by the suspect,” said provincial police spokesperson Sgt. Helene St-Pierre.
The incident happened just after 3 p.m. along St-Benoit Boulevard in Amqui, about 350 kilometres northeast of Quebec City.
The two dead are a man in his 60s and another in his 70s, an SQ spokesman said. Children are among the injured being treated at the Amqui Hospital.
Of the nine injured, two are in “serious” condition. The other seven are still being evaluated, said St-Pierre.
Five of the injured were transferred to other hospitals, including three to Quebec City, one to Rimouski and one to Montreal.
A spokesperson for the regional health board confirmed a code orange had been declared at the Amqui hospital, which normally indicates a disaster situation or one with a high number of casualties.
A truck driver told The Canadian Press he saw four or five people lying on the ground spread out over a distance, adding that he saw police perform CPR on one of the victims.
“When I arrived, it was already too late,” said witness Isabelle Gagne.
Gagne said she began performing CPR on one of the victims, taking turns with a police officer there until a paramedic arrived.
“She said, ‘Stop, it’s over,'” Gagne recalled.
The woman, who was working inside a convenience store, said she knew the victims she saw.
“That’s my whole clientele, I know them,” she said.
Gagne also recounted seeing the driver travel about “half a kilometre” driving onto the sidewalk to strike a pedestrian, before returning to the road and then mounting the sidewalk again to strike another person.
The SQ is not commenting on any possible motive.
Investigators are at the scene.
“Everything points to it being an isolated event. There is no longer any danger in the area and there is only one suspect,” said St-Pierre.
Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Francois Legault responded with concern to the event.
“As we learn more about the tragic events that have taken place, I’m keeping everyone affected in my thoughts,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter. “And to the first responders: Thank you for acting quickly, courageously, and professionally.”
Legault, also on Twitter, wrote: “All my thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones. Thank you to the first responders on the ground.”
Pascal Berube, who represents the region in the provincial legislature, said he was going to the scene and was troubled by what he has heard.
– With files from The Canadian Press
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