News Local

Two killed in fiery crash that closed Highway 401 between Port Hope and Cobourg

By PETE FISHER, Northumberland Today

Two people are dead following a horrific collision on Highway 401 late Thursday evening.

The multi-vehicle collision happened just east of the County Road 28 on-ramp to the highway around 10 p.m.

Northumberland OPP Staff Sgt. Jeff Martin said eastbound traffic travelling was backed up from Cobourg to Port Hope.

“Traffic was slowed for the nighttime construction that has been going on for some time,” he said. “A tractor trailer also going eastbound failed to stop for the traffic that had come to a stop and a collision occurred.”

The tractor trailer slammed into a pickup truck with two occupants, which was slammed into the rear of another transport that was stopped. Another passenger vehicle, believed to be a Jetta, was also involved in the collision. The initial impact from the transport drove the vehicles, which were stopped, approximately 100 meters.

A fire erupted as a result of the collision.

The female driver from the Jetta and a transport driver tried to rescue the pair from the pickup truck, but the intense heat from the flames prevented any type of rescue.

When the Port Hope Fire Department arrived on scene, the two vehicles and the transport that was initially involved in the collision were engulfed in flames.

The transport driver whose rig collided with the other vehicles walked away from the scene with minor injuries.

The fire in the transport went on for several hours with firefighters cutting open the side of the transport to gain access and using foam. There were no dangerous goods on board.

Eastbound traffic from Port Hope was re-routed to Cobourg while members of the OPP Technical Traffic Collision unit did an intense investigation of the scene. 

Westbound lanes of the highway were also closed because heavy smoke from the fire was causing a hazard to drivers. The westbound lanes were opened up around 2 a.m.

Names of the deceased are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

“Summertime brings on construction...such as Highway 401,” Martin said. “The kickoff for the long weekend, we didn’t want to see this.”

Workers at the scene also tried to control a diesel fuel leak from the transport truck.

Northumberland OPP issued a release at 6:40 p.m. Friday to announce that all lanes were open.

“Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has completed repairs to the surface of the highway and the remaining lanes are now open for eastbound travel. The on-ramps at Toronto Road and County Road 28 have also been opened,” the release stated.

“Northumberland OPP would like to thank the public for their patience during this road closure. The decision to close a road is not taken lightly and we recognize the significant impact on personal and commercial traffic that it causes. However public safety, officer safety and the safety of our partners working are the main considerations when deciding to close a road.”