Five years of the fiasco on the A13: “we forgive, but we don’t forget”

Five years after the Highway 13 fiasco, motorists who were stuck for long hours due to a snowstorm have an indelible memory of that nightmarish night.

“We panic a little because no heating, no heat, the car no longer works, simply an electrical problem. We were trying to find cables, we were really in solution mode to try to warm up, ”recalls Annick Blain, one of the motorists who were stranded on Highway 13.

On March 14, 2017, a snowstorm that started mid-afternoon intensified through the evening.

A first truck got stuck on Highway 13 in Montreal and the situation quickly deteriorated. For hours and hours, a major stretch of Highway 13 turned into a huge parking lot.

Stuck motorists tried by all means to reach the emergency services.

“I remember on the other side of Highway 13, there were no vehicles, or barely, circulating and we went to the edge to give signals to people, like SOS,” says Ms. Blain .

The Prime Minister at the time, Philippe Couillard, had apologized to motorists as calls for the resignation of his Minister of Transport, Laurent Lessard, multiplied.

In his report, published in May 2017, the investigator appointed by the government to shed light on the events, Mr. Florent Gagné, underlines that it is a whole system that has miserably escaped him.

The mess has also raised questions about duplication, among others at the direction of the Sûreté du Québec, after revelations concerning an officer of the police force who was on duty when the whole thing happened.

A truck driver who also got stuck on Highway 13 was also arrested and charged for refusing to be towed. He was eventually acquitted in July 2019.

One thing is certain, those who have been stuck for long hours in the snow will not soon forget this event.

“It is sure that there are people who have not necessarily done the work. Do I want more? No. Do I still think about it? Yes. We forgive, but we don’t forget,” says Annick Blain.

– Based on information from Andy St-André

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