A 40-YEAR-OLD driver has plunged to his death after his motorhome flew off a ramp and crashed onto a ferry full of passengers below.
Éric Belec was pulled from the wreckage on Quebec’s Saguenay River and rushed to hospital, but died just hours later.
His female passenger, 40, was also pulled from the wreckage and remains in a critical condition, Canadian police confirmed.
Dramatic CCTV footage captured the moment the vehicle soared over the edge of the ferry’s boarding ramp, landing on the deck as terrified passengers ran for cover.
Motorists who board the ferry on the Tadoussac side of the river must drive down a long, steep hill and concerns have been raised over the safety of the ramp.
Yves Gauthier, spokesperson for the Tadoussac fire department, said the boarding ramp was being raised when the accident occurred, around 12.45 on Monday afternoon.
Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Sgt. Hugues Beaulieu said it appears a mechanical problem led to the driver’s failure to brake, which is under investigation.
Video taken from the stern of the ferry shows the ship pulling away from the terminal for its 10-minute journey across the Saguenay River from Tadoussac to Baie-Sainte-Catherine.
The deck is scattered with several cars and a small crowd of people.
Out of nowhere, a white RV is seen plummeting down towards the ferry’s deck.
It was like being in a movie. It [seemed] impossible that something like this would happen.”
Witness Cindy Desbiens
The passengers run out of the way, just a split-second before the vehicle crashes and crumples to the deck.
Cindy Desbiens, who was on the deck with her two children, told CBC: “It was like being in a movie. It [seemed] impossible that something like this would happen.”
Another witness Claire Gagné said: “There was a lot of panic. A lot of people almost got hit.”
Many observers have praised the driver’s ‘heroic’ actions which may have averted a far worse accident.
As the RV sped down the steep Highway 138 – the road leading to the ferry dock – he sounded his horn to alert people and veered past oncoming cars.
Chloé Duplessis, another passenger on the deck, told a local radio station: “He was trying to stop by swerving into the metal gates on the side of the road.”
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Tadoussac’s Mayor, Charles Breton, expressed relief that no children were peering over the stern of the ship and that the ferry had already departed.
He said: “If [the ferry] had taken off two seconds before, or two seconds later, the outcome could have been entirely different.”
He added: “All the elements are there for a catastrophic scenario.”
Mr Breton vowed to to improve the Highway 138, saying “I think this accident reminds us this has to be a priority.”
Highway 138 has since reopened and limited ferry service has resumed.
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