MONTREAL — A coroner has concluded that a Quebec father intentionally crashed head-on into a tractor-trailer in March, killing himself and two of his four children.
Coroner Donald Nicole wrote in a report released Tuesday that the 42-year-old father died by suicide and the deaths of his 12-year-old son and four-year-old daughter were homicides.
The family was heading home from an outing on March 15 when the crash occurred on Highway 112 in the small municipality of St-Frédéric, about an hour's drive south of Quebec City. The coroner said weather and road conditions were not a factor.
The minivan was carrying a family of six from Adstock, Que., a small town about 85 kilometres south of the provincial capital.
Nicole's report found the minivan was going 135 km/h upon impact, having accelerated from 130 km/h moments before the crash. There was no attempt to brake as it swerved into oncoming traffic and hit the truck.
The truck was travelling 70 km/h and video from the truck's cab showed the minivan suddenly change lanes, with the driver looking toward the front while the front-seat passenger appeared to be asleep. Neither vehicle had any mechanical issues, and everyone in the minivan was wearing a seatbelt.
The coroner attributes the crash to the father's psychological distress, although police found no evidence the father was contemplating suicide in the lead up to his homicidal act.
The father's medical records showed an anxiety-depressive disorder but no indication of a suicide risk.
"According to the police investigation, in the hours preceding the fatal collision (the father) had not expressed any words or made any gestures suggesting that he was in psychological distress or that he wanted to take his own life," the coroner wrote. He explained the situation that led to the crash as "a context of latent psychological distress."
Two children and their mother survived the crash, while the five people in the truck were not injured.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, support is available 24/7 by calling Talk Suicide Canada (1-833-456-4566) or texting 45645 in the evenings. Residents of Quebec can call 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553) or visit suicide.ca for support by text and online chat. In Nova Scotia, residents can call the provincial mental health crisis line at 1-888-429-8167 or by dialing 911.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2023.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press