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Speed likely the main factor in fatal crash



Police are still investigating possible charges against 16 year old driver

Speeding, negligence, and dangerous driving are being blamed for Saturday (April 14) morning’s three vehicle crash on Powerline Hill which left three dead and 10 injured.

Magdalena Robes, 46, of Squamish and Aliya Noor Padamshi, 16, of Vancouver died at the scene. Sandeep Braich, 21, of Vancouver died at Vancouver General Hospital at approximately 5 p.m. the same day due to injuries sustained in the accident.

The RCMP are still investigating the accident, which occurred at about 7:10 a.m. A red Camaro travelling southbound apparently lost control heading into the curve, skidding and crossing over into oncoming traffic. The car hit a northbound minivan with six Squamish residents head-on.

The van was on its way to Whistler where the occupants worked, including two members of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s cleaning staff. One cleaner, Robes, was killed and the other was seriously injured. Robes was wearing a seatbelt, and was sitting in the backseat.

The two other victims were in the Camaro – Padamshi was in the passenger seat and Braich in the back seat. Both were wearing seatbelts.

The third car, a Toyota Accura, was also heading south when the initial accident occurred. The Toyota is believed to have hit the rear of the van, causing only minor damage.

The precise cause of the crash – including speculation the Toyota and Camaro were together, or were racing – is still being investigated. Depending on the outcome of the investigation and approval of the Crown counsel, the 16-year-old driver of the Camaro (who has been released from the hospital), could be charged with three counts of Dangerous Driving Causing Death and/or three counts of Criminal Negligence Causing Death. The driver, who is from Richmond, is a young offender and cannot be named.

The highway was closed for more than four hours after the accident while rescue crews worked to extricate the victims and the RCMP completed their investigation of the site. Some cleanup was also required, and concrete barriers that were knocked aside in the crash had to be returned to their original position. The survivors were rushed to various hospitals via five ambulances and two helicopters, with injuries ranging from minor to very serious.

It isn’t known how fast the Camaro was travelling, but Constable Ray Bernoties of the Whistler RCMP says it was definitely over the posted limit of 80 km/h.

"We will be able to tell fairly precisely when we’re done with the vehicle inspection, but it’s fair to say that the car was going well in excess of the advisory (50 km/h) and well in excess of speed limits."

For the Dangerous Driving charge, all the RCMP needs to establish is that the driver, who had a Class 7 ‘novice’ license, was driving in a manner that could be of danger to others.

Criminal Negligence could apply if the driver was not paying attention, fell asleep, was talking on a cell phone, or negligent in "a manner that might be dangerous," says Bernoties. "We feel he may be responsible for this."

While there are accidents and fatalities on this stretch of road every year, Bernoties says the road is safe when travelling at a safe speed. "Even if you weren’t affected by this directly, you can use this incident as a learning tool: Do not get complacent at the wheel of a car, and, regardless of what anyone thinks, speed does kill."