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Lucky to be alive

‘It all happened so fast.’

Residents on Regional Street inspect the damage as a utility pole hangs by its wires in the immediate aftermath of the car accident. – © Rosalyn Roy / Wreckhouse Press

By Rosalyn Roy – with files from René J. Roy

PORT AUX BASQUES — At first Cathy Mauger had no idea what was happening. “I was up doing the dishes and I came down to get my pooch that was on the bed – he’s always on the bed – and just as I got over by the bed I heard a bang and I just went right back, on my backside,” said Mauger. “I thought Glen’s (husband) truck had blown up out by the door with Glen into it, so I just grabbed him (the dog) ran out to the door, screeching for my Dad, because my father lives right there, and I just lost it. I can’t remember very much to tell you the truth.” Glen’s truck and the Mauger’s home had taken heavy damage, but it wasn’t from an explosion. The cause was a single vehicle that was now laying on its roof nearby. On Sunday, March 26, the Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department, RCMP and ambulance service responded to a 911 call about multiple collisions involving a single vehicle. Fire Chief Jerry Musseau said the department was on scene within minutes.

“The call came in around 5:45 p.m., just before 6:00 p.m., and we were on scene within five minutes from when the call came in. It was in town, super quick to get to from the fire station.” The first thing emergency responders did was quickly but carefully assess the situation. “When I arrived on scene, the first thing I noticed was a car on the road on its roof. There was extensive damage to a house, which was next to the car that was upside down, and there was a Newfoundland Power pole that was snapped off,” said Musseau. “I noticed there were three vehicles besides the one on its roof, and those three vehicles were parked but they did sustain damage.” Around 20 firefighters responded and quickly restricted access to that section of Regional Street. “We had our trucks on the road with one right of way left for the ambulance because we had gotten on scene before the ambulance,” said Musseau. It didn’t take long to get the situation under control. “We spent around 45 minutes on the scene. When I got there, the person that was in the car that was on the roof, was out on the ground and covered up,” said Musseau. “We didn’t have to use the Jaws (of Life) or anything like that. There was some antifreeze spilled and some water from the car, so we were waiting for the ambulance to arrive and we kept people back. With that light pole smashed, we were concerned that it could come crashing down because those lines were still energized.” The fire department made a quick phone call to get the live wires switched off. “One of our firefighters who also works with Newfoundland Power, he got in contact with Newfoundland Power to come in and disconnect the power on those overhead lines,” said Musseau. “It didn’t take too long at all for them to arrive on scene.” Because of the increased traffic congesting the roadway due to spectators, the NL Power workers were obliged to park at the top of the street and run down the hill. The damage was significant, but the only reported injury was to the driver, who was transported by ambulance to the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre. “To my knowledge the female driver was the only injury, and I have no idea what may have caused the accident. She was conscious when we arrived on scene.” The next day, a spokesperson for the RCMP released the following statement via e-mail: “Shortly before 6 p.m. last evening, Chanel-Port aux Basques RCMP received a report of multiple collisions that had occurred on Regional Street in Port aux Basques. A vehicle struck three parked vehicles, a utility pole and a home, causing damages. When police arrived at the scene, fire and ambulance were present and were tending on the driver. The lone occupant of the vehicle was transported to hospital for treatment of injuries that are believed to be non-life-threatening. The cause of the collision remains under investigation. There were no signs of alcohol or drug impairment.” Later that evening, the Mauger’s were still assessing the considerable damage to their home, which was now without power. “My walk-in closet, everything in there is just destroyed. Glen has it all boarded up, but it was open to the world and all my stuff fell out on the ground,” said Cathy. “The entire house shook and there are cracks everywhere. They’re all down through the ceiling of my house, the roof – everything on the walls went flying. Glen said, ‘You’re lucky,’ because the door came flying off and it just missed me. Glen said it literally would’ve cracked me in half if it would’ve hit me. It all happened so fast.” Because of the extent of the damage, Cathy said that NL Power is unsure when or if they’ll be able to restore power to the Mauger’s home. Further assessment will have to be done by insurance investigators. “I just went blank. I thought Glen blew up by the door. That’s all I thought. I just heard the bang. I didn’t know everything that happened. I went running to the door then Glen said, ‘Go back, go back,’ and I was so thankful he was okay. That’s all that matters. He told me to go to my father’s and he’d explain later,” said Mauger. “So I didn’t see any of this until later. Throughout the night, my Daddy brought me down here and I just couldn’t believe it. I’m not over the loss of all of that yet (Hurricane Fiona). It’s a nightmare. That’s my neighbours’, you know, and now they told me my house might be condemned too. The cracks, everything’s let go. Insurance called and told me to get out of here right away because we can’t live like this. I can’t believe it. There’s been so much pain, crying everyday about people who’ve lost their houses, and now, I may lose mine.” A close relative of the driver confirmed that she is recovering in hospital from non-serious injuries, but declined any further comment.

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