Three teens killed in vehicle crash in central New Brunswick: principal

BLACKVILLE, N.B. — Three teenaged boys from central New Brunswick were killed early Sunday when the car they were in slammed into a concrete and stone retaining wall in the rural community Blackville.

The RCMP say all three occupants were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

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Photos from the crash site show a car torn in two and a tangle of metal, glass and plastic across Route 8, the village's two-lane main street. In front of a small home, a low retaining wall in the front yard appears to be smashed to rubble on one side.

Blackville resident Eric Walls said he was on his way to bed after watching the hockey game when he heard a terrible sound.

"It sounded like a bomb," he said in an interview. "It was a huge crash and bang. I came outside and the neighbours were all screaming, 'Call an ambulance!' There were bodies on the ground ... There was no bringing them back."

The victims were identified as a 17-year-old from nearby White Rapids, N.B., and a 16-year-old and 17-year-old, both from Blackville.

"This is the seventh or eighth accident over the last five years — it's terrible, to be honest," Walls said, adding that part of the vehicle involved in the most recent crash had landed in his driveway. "It's almost surreal. It's devastating."

The village is about 40 kilometres southwest of Miramichi, N.B., and home to about 950 people.

Rodney Buggie, the principal at Blackville School, says two of the boys were in Grade 12 and the other graduated in June.

"Everybody knows everybody here," Buggie said in an interview. "We're a K-to-12 school and all those boys would have attended kindergarten to Grade 12. Every teacher knew them ... I knew them all very well."

The school, which has 348 students, was to be opened Sunday afternoon to offer grief counselling to local residents.

"Our staff will be there along with counsellors from our school district," Buggie said.

Jake Stewart, the area's representative in the provincial legislature, issued a statement Sunday asking residents to keep the victims' families in their thoughts and prayers.

"I'm shocked and saddened to learn of yet another tragedy here in our home community," said Stewart.

He did not say what he was referring to, but a similar crash over the Easter weekend in 2019 killed four teens from the Miramichi area.

Their vehicle veered off a wet, rural road on a Saturday night and landed on its roof in a ditch filled with icy water. At the time, the Miramichi Police Force said heroic efforts were made to save the teens, but all four later died from their injuries at Miramichi Regional Hospital.

Police in Miramichi later confirmed the victims of the crash on April 20, 2019, were 17-year-old Cassie Lloyd of Escuminac, 18-year-old Emma Connick of Baranaby, 17-year-old Logan Matchett and 16-year-old Avery Astle, both from Strathadam.

On Sunday, Stewart said he had been campaigning for re-election on the weekend. Voting day is Monday for a provincial election — the first in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March.

"It is important that all local candidates refrain from campaigning out of respect for the families," Stewart said.

— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2020.

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