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Nov 20

Surviving a Crash on Highway 63

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On November 18, we remembered and honoured those we’ve lost on Highways 63 and 881, as part of the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims. During the event, the survivor of a collision on Highway 63 shared her story. This is her first hand encounter of the collision.

It was Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 at approximately 5:07pm when my life was changed forever.

I had just put my truck in for service and was driving a courtesy vehicle from Williams Chrysler, now known as Legacy Dodge in Fort McMurray, Alberta. I remember leaving the parking lot and turning right to go the long way around. I turned onto Highway 63 northbound at the first set of traffic lights as you enter the city. Coming up to the next main intersection, I can recall seeing the flashing amber lights on the sign overhead warning that the light was red. All traffic was stopped, and so was I; behind a gravel truck with a pup bucket in tow.

All seemed fine, but the last I remember was reaching into my purse for something on the passenger seat and then CRASH! Everything went black and I could only hear the sounds of crushing metal, glass breaking, and screeching tires, as I felt myself being thrust forward with an immense amount of force.

I had been hit by an impaired driver.

A second gravel truck, again with a pup bucket in tow had come speeding behind me in excess of over 80km/hr in a 70km/hr zone. The driver, a man in his forties, was significantly impaired by alcohol and claims that he didn’t see me. I had been stopped behind the first gravel truck for a couple of minutes before being hit, and I had now been pushed into, and then underneath it.

It took the Emergency Service crews two and a half hours to finally extract me from inside the car and transport me by ambulance to the local hospital. Paramedics had placed me into a medically induced coma, which is how I remained for nine days. After three days in the Intensive Care Unit in Fort McMurray, I was sent by medivac to the University of Alberta hospital, where my family (husband, parents, sister, niece and nephews as well as my four year old son) were told to make sure they took their time saying that they loved me as I may not be alive when they arrive in Edmonton.

I spent a total of twenty-nine days in the hospital initially after the collision happened to recover from a complete panoramic facial smash (every bone in my face was broken except one), six broken ribs, an enlarged hematoma on my left knee, a collapsed lung, two fractured and one chipped vertebrae in my lower back and a fractured vertebrae in my neck. Four of my front teeth had been knocked out and with the panoramic facial smash my jaw was smashed into cornflakes according to the surgeons. It took twelve and a half hours in the operating room where doctors reconstructed my face with seventeen titanium steel plates and over seventy titanium screws.

Today, eight years later I have finally been able to return to work on a part-time basis and struggle daily with a chronic pain disorder called Fibromyalgia. My life will never be the same as it was before the collision, but with time, strength and a lot of determination, I am now an Impact Youth Coordinator educating local teens in our municipality about the dangers and risks of distracted and impaired driving to help make our roads safer for all drivers.


Melanie Murrin
Impact Coordinator
Safe Community Wood Buffalo