Westlock man calls for Highway 63 twinning
Dion Lefebvre was first on the scene of horrific April 27 crash
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 08:46 am
A Westlock man is calling for the twinning of Highway 63, the notorious route from Edmonton to Fort McMurray, after witnessing first-hand how deadly it is.
Dion Lefebvre, owner of Westlock Movers, was on the highway last Friday when two vehicles collided head-on, killing seven of the nine passengers.
It’s high time the highway was twinned, he said, and he believes the companies driving the economic boom in northern Alberta should be on the hook for some of the cost.
“I think ‘Big Oil’ should be covering the expense,” he said. “If we had that twinning done or had the infrastructure work that was necessary at the same intensity that they’re extracting the oil, we’d have a good highway up there. I think they’re putting the cart before the horse, and the infrastructure’s not in place to handle the volume of traffic.”
Two vehicles collided last Friday, April 27, leaving just two survivors: three-year-old Timothy Wheaton and Mark Penney, 28.
Along with friend and co-worker Eli Day, Lefebvre was one of the first people on the scene and pulled survivors from the vehicles. He said that while the experience was horrific, the collision was not surprising.
“I’ve traveled that highway many times, and in the last two or three years I’ve made it company policy that we just don’t accept any work on that highway on Thursdays and Sundays because of the volume of traffic,” he said.
Lefebvre, who has three years of experience as a member of the Tawatinaw ski patrol, said he hesitated at first but once he heard a child crying knew what he had to do.
“I think it was just a human hesitation,” he said. “Nobody wants to see absolute carnage, and that’s what the scene was.”
He credits his experience on the ski patrol with helping to keep his head in a difficult situation, which he said lasted nearly an hour before emergency crews arrived.
“It gave me the confidence that I needed to be a first responder,” he said.
Lefebvre added that Day’s role should not be understated.
“My friend and coworker Eli Day was very active in all aspects of helping the survivors,” he said. “Especially with Timmy. Eli was the one that held on to him for an hour, and Timmy was only comfortable in Eli’s arms at that stage.”
Ultimately, Lefebvre said he just happened to be in the right place at the right time to help.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of people that consider me a hero, but I’m just a dude doing what I should do,” he said.