The Province

Hero pulled child from crash that killed seven


EDMONTON —Dion lefebvre knew there were survivors the instant he heard a child scream.

The moving company owner was on Highway 63 headed for Fort Mcmurray, Alta., on Friday last week when a pickup pulled out to pass him on a hill.

He saw the truck swerve to avoid an oncoming vehicle. As Lefebvre looked over his shoulder, he saw the head-on crash that killed seven people.

He swung his empty box truck around and hurried back to help.

“You don’t want to run in and see a whole bunch of dead bodies, but as soon as I heard Timmy crying, it gave me all the more incentive to run in, get him out of there.”

Lefebvre unbuckled Timothy Wheaton, 3, and passed the hysterical boy to another man. Timothy’s two-year-old brother, Benjamin, was dead on impact.

Other witnesses stopped and tried to extricate 28-year-old Mark Penney, the only other survivor in that pickup, who had a broken wrist and other injuries, but was conscious and answering questions.

Within a couple of minutes, the truck that had passed Lefebvre caught fire. He found 11-year-old Faith Kondusky-sennett lying in the back seat and helped pull her out. They kept her alive until an air ambulance arrived, but the girl

“A strong little dude, that Timmy.” — Dion Lefebvre

later died at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

Men grabbed crowbars and fire extinguish­ers and tried to pry open the driver’s door, where KonduskySe­nnett’s father was still alive. There weren’t enough extinguish­ers to keep the flames down. They had to walk away.

Timothy clung to Eli Day, Lefebvre’s passenger and co-worker, for an hour until paramedics arrived.

“A strong little dude, that Timmy,” Lefebvre said. “It’s a miracle anyone survived that crash, let alone anyone that small.”

Later, after talking to paramedics, police and victims services, Lefebvre got into his truck and cancelled his work for the next two days.

He counts himself among those calling for the highway to be twinned. A frequent driver of the route, he saw recently, in one day, five accidents, 43 illegal passes and six emergency vehicles in one approximat­e 200-kilometre stretch.

“I travel the highway all the time,” he said. “I’ve seen many horrible accidents.”

The crash occurred in a passing zone about 50 km north of Wandering River. Lefebvre said the northbound truck pulled out just before the double line.

“It was horrific. I’ve got to be honest,” Lefebvre said. “It was not something that I was in any shape prepared for. I like to think I kept a level head or was able to help as much as possible.”

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