ST. PAUL, Alta. – Three people have been seriously hurt after a minivan crashed through the wall of a school in a rural Alberta town.
Mounties said one of the injured, a child, was pinned under the minivan after it went into a classroom at Racette Junior High School in St. Paul, east of Edmonton, shortly after classes began Thursday.
Health officials were unable to provide ages, but said three patients with critical injuries have been airlifted to hospital in Edmonton.
Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services said another five people were transported by ambulance to the local hospital with non-critical injuries and three of them were quickly discharged.
RCMP said the van’s driver has been taken into custody but there is no word on whether he will be charged. Photos from the scene show a man being led away in handcuffs.
Glen Brodziak, superintendent of St. Paul Education, said the school was evacuated and students were transported to other schools.
Michelle de Moissac was one of many parents who rushed to the school to find out if their children were OK. She said her 11-year old son, Brett, wasn’t injured but is traumatized.
“My son was near and heard all the screaming,” she said.
She added that a teacher told her the van nearly hit a pedestrian a few blocks away before it drove down an alley by the school, smashed through a chain-link fence then crashed into the school.
The van dove down into the classroom because sits below ground level, she said. There were about 15 students in the Grade 6 French class at the time.
“Everyone was being taken out by ambulance.”
De Moissac said her son is worried about some of his close friends who were sitting in the classroom that was hit. She’s concerned for their parents.
“For about 10 minutes I didn’t know where my son was and I was freaking right out … It’s nothing compared to what these parents are going through.”
Renee Frechette, a reporter with the local radio station CHSP, said there’s a “giant hole” in the side of the school.
She said the road next to the crash site appeared icy but couldn’t say whether ice played a role in the crash.