April 13th, 2024

Pastor among four Cree Nation victims killed in collision in rural Quebec

By The Canadian Press on March 22, 2024.

A Surete du Quebec patch is shown at a news conference, in Quebec City, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. A head-on crash today between two vehicles has left five people dead in the town of Chapais in northern Quebec. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

CHAPAIS, Que. – The pastor of a Cree Nation church and other people en route to medical appointments were among the victims of a head-on collision in rural Quebec on Thursday that killed five people.

Four members of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, Que., were killed in the crash, a tragedy that has “devastated” the community located about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal, deputy chief Rhonda Oblin Cooper said in an interview Friday.

The four were travelling inside a van that collided with a pickup truck in the rural town of Chapais, about 75 km east of Waswanipi. The driver of the pickup truck was also killed.

Quebec provincial police are still investigating the incident but have said preliminary information suggests the truck entered the wrong lane on Highway 113 and drove head-on into the van, which then caught fire.

Oblin Cooper said the van belonged to the regional health service and was shuttling patients to appointments at the time of the collision. The office of Chief Irene Neeposh has identified the victims as van driver Abraham Ottereyes, patients Allan Etapp and Charlie Gull, and Gull’s wife, Cecile Gull.

Ottereyes was a longtime driver for the health service and Etapp was a pastor at a local church, Oblin Cooper said.

“It impacts the whole community,” she said of the crash in an interview. “We’re such a small community that when we lose four members “¦ in this way, in such a tragic manner, it really tests the community.”

The Cree Nation of Waswanipi will begin four days of mourning on Friday, an occasion Oblin Cooper said will include community events to reflect on the victims’ lives.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2024.

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