Airdrie resident Caitlin Johnson was heading back to Airdrie in the afternoon on Saturday, August 27 on Highway 2 near Carstairs, when she noticed what appeared to be smoke.
"In the distance, on the left-hand shoulder [lane] side of the road, it looked like there was a big cloud of smoke. I thought it was a fire at first. Then, as I got closer, the traffic slowed down," she said. "I saw a car, it looked like it had rolled a few times, but it was sitting upright."
According to police reports, the RCMP were dispatched to the collision, at 4:10 P.M., a suspect vehicle, described only as a white truck, overtook a family SUV, braking aggressively in front of them. The SUV lost contact with the road surface while attempting to avoid a rear-end collision with the suspect vehicle.
The suspect's truck and family SUV were both travelling southbound on Highway 2, approximately two kilometres south of Highway 581 overpass near Carstairs. The SUV rolled through the median ditch before coming to rest along the fence. The suspect vehicle did not remain.
By the time Johnson happened upon the scene and stopped, others bystanders had stopped on both sides of the highway to render aid. She too would call 9-1-1, though dispatchers informed her that there had already been multiple calls and crews were on their way.
"There were people everywhere outside, calling 9-1-1, pulling people out. I saw one individual that was ejected from the vehicle. He was on the other side of the highway. So, it would have been the northbound side of the highway."
The individual Johnson saw, according to the RCMP, was a child under five years of age.
"[The child] was ejected from the vehicle and was in a life-threatening condition, having been flown by STARS Air Ambulance to hospital. The four other occupants, two children and two adults were also in serious condition and were transported by ground ambulance to an area hospital," according to an RCMP statement.
Johnson noticed a bystander who was cradling an infant in their arms.
"The baby was from the car accident. I just grabbed my son's baby blanket from the backseat, and I ran it over to them and they wrapped up the baby in the blanket. I got back in my car and then a few minutes later, the emergency vehicles arrived."
Johnson said the baby in the arms of the strangers did not appear to be injured.
"He was actually quite calm and he was snuggling with the bystander that was holding him. I did see other children on the scene. They were older, they seemed to be eight or 10[ish]. The mother of the vehicle was sitting in the front passenger seat and there were some bystanders with her. So, I think the five-year-old in question was the one that I saw on the other side of the vehicle that was lying on the road. I didn't see a second adult."
When asked what she thought of the news reports that the RCMP deemed this collision as part of a road rage incident, she said she was frustrated to hear it.
"It's just another one of those senseless acts and it just doesn't make sense to me. I've seen people drive like that before where they're cutting off people and breaking right in front of them. I just don't understand what the purpose of it is," Johnson said." In my opinion, if someone's doing something on the road that you don't like, it's not your job to say quote unquote, teach them a lesson if that's what you think you're doing. It's just sad to see that that was the result. It didn't have to happen."
Since the collision, Johnson has been consumed by thoughts of what she witnessed.
"It's been on my mind; quite a bit last night and today. It's hard to see and of course, you're just wondering how everyone is doing."
Though she was slightly surprised at the number of people who had stopped to help, it was a pleasant surprise in the aftermath of something horrific.
"It was that reassur[ing] feeling that you know there's always going to be someone there to help in those emergency situations and it just made me feel good, seeing how many people were there helping them."
Since Saturday, there has been no update as to the status of the injured passengers. The police are however urging anyone who may have witnessed the collision or who may have dashboard camera footage of the collision to contact the Didsbury RCMP.