‘Significant’ injuries for victim after car crashes into Rose Garden on Canada Day

Note: Updated at 8 p.m. with new information from the Globe & Mail, CBC and Province websites.

New Westminster’s Canada Day celebrations took an upsetting turn towards the close of the Queen’s Park festivities when an elderly driver crashed a car into a park bench in the Rose Garden, injuring at least two people – one critically.

Police on the scene at the Rose Garden in Queens Park on Canada Day. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Police on the scene at the Rose Garden in Queen's Park on Canada Day. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

News reports about the injuries vary. CBC says four people were hurt in the crash, but the Globe & Mail and Province say only two. All sources agree that a couple in their sixties were hit by the car, and a woman is now in hospital with critical injuries to the head.

Witnesses said the driver seemed to be trying to park her silver SUV, but instead, accelerated straight through the park’s rose garden.

The injured included a man and a woman who were sitting on a park bench. Pat Barnes, who witnessed the accident, said the woman took the brunt of the hit.

“She got hung up on the hood of the car and went with it all the way down over the embankment,” Barnes said, adding the incident could have been much worse.

“It was actually fortunate there was not more people hurt, because there was a lot of people in the rose garden … a lot of people in the park.”

- CBC: New Westminster accident injures 4

More from The Globe & Mail’s report:

At 2:45 p.m., an elderly woman’s car accelerated from the nearby parking lot, travelled 12 metres across the grass and hit the bench, which was near the middle of the large park.

“The information I received is that the vehicle left the parking area and travelled some 40 feet across grass and struck the bench,” New Westminster police Sergeant Gary Weishaar said. “You think about kids that would have been witnesses to that, and the families.”

Investigators say it is too early to know what caused the crash, though witnesses told CTV it appeared the woman confused the gas and brake pedal.

A mechanical inspection of the car will be carried out Thursday to see if a malfunction played a role in the bizarre crash. The driver, a woman in her 80s, was questioned by police and released into the care of her family. She wasn’t hurt, and Sgt. Weishaar said it was too early to say whether she might be charged.

“Of course, everything’s being looked at,” he said.

- The Globe & Mail: Driver slams into Canada Day crowd

Will and I heard about the accident just as we were about to head home from the park, and heard confirmation via @bnu on Twitter (quoting a News1130 radio report) shortly after we got home confirming that a woman suffered “significant” injuries after an elderly driver hit a park bench in Queen’s Park during Canada Day festivities around 3:15 p.m. today. Police said it seems the driver accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake.

In the photo below, you can see the destroyed park bench in the background, behind the police tape barrier:

A destroyed bench is visible in the background, behind the police tape. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

A destroyed bench is visible in the background, behind the police tape. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

We passed by the Rose Garden on the way to the van, and snapped a few photos of the scene. As you can tell, any injured folks had already been taken care of by paramedics, and the crash debris had been largely cleared from the scene. A large section of the parking lot and Rose Garden was still cordoned off with yellow police tape, however, and police were taking statements from witnesses. I overheard part of one of these statements, from a  former firefighter who said he gave first aid to the crash victim. Many other witnesses and first responders were sharing their stories with partygoers exiting the park.

Our thoughts are with both the driver and the woman injured in the crash.

More coverage:

Thanks to Jocelyn for posting the first report on this, based on a quick phone call from Will as we left the park.

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10 thoughts on “‘Significant’ injuries for victim after car crashes into Rose Garden on Canada Day”

  1. Twitter Comment

    <div class="ccimg1" title="10thToTheFraser (Briana Tomkinson)" style="float:left;margin-right:10px;padding:0;width:60px;height:60px;background:url (http://www.tenthtothefraser.ca/wp-content/plugins/chatcatcher/picbg.jpg) no-repeat top;cursor:hand;">

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    <div class="ccimg2" title="10thToTheFraser (Briana Tomkinson)" style="float:left;margin-left:-70px;margin-right:10px;padding:0;width:60px;height:60px;background:url (http://purl.org/net/spiurl/10thToTheFraser) no-repeat top;cursor:hand;">

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    Car accident at #NewWest Canada Day celebration. Driver crashed into Queens Park rose garden, reports of injuries. [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. Twitter Comment

    <div class="ccimg1" title="10thToTheFraser (Briana Tomkinson)" style="float:left;margin-right:10px;padding:0;width:60px;height:60px;background:url (http://www.tenthtothefraser.ca/wp-content/plugins/chatcatcher/picbg.jpg) no-repeat top;cursor:hand;">

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    Updated blog post on #CanadaDay car crash in #NewWest Queen's Park Rose Garden – at least two injured, one critically: [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  3. Hats off to those Canada Day celebrants who rushed to respond to John Ashbridge's announced request for those with medical experience to immediately attend and help at the scene of the accident, and SHAME on the individual with the camcorder ignoring requests to not film the injured woman being worked on by emergency responders in her state of compromise and great vulnerability.

  4. My hopes are with the injured lady. As for the person with the camcorder, oh well, human nature and all that. I also hope (from a somewhat selfish point of view) that there wasn't alot of damage done to the rose garden itself, and if there was that it can be restored before the last Saturday in September. For its booked that day for our wedding. Not to mention the other events scheduled to be held there before then.

  5. The Rose Garden was not significantly damaged. Mostly just the bench. Sadly the people took the worst of it.

    Holy Cow about the camcorder bit. We totally didn't hear about that. Hats off to Ashbridge tho. By the time we saw the space, the scene had been cleared.

    John is a modest fellow I suppose. He didn't mention it when we talked today.

  6. Mr. Lundy,

    Congratulations on your pending nuptials, but I find it hard to believe that if it was your wife in a state of undress with emergency response personnel administering life saving assistance that you would say "human nature" about the person video recording the scene as it played out. The word I heard used to describe the individual and his actions was "sick". And it was, he would not stop.

  7. What I meant was, much like those passing car accidents and stopping to have a look, the dependance on technology in today's world has led to a watering down or dilution of what's acceptable and not acceptable behaviour in today's society. You're right though, had it been my loved one, and someone was there filming and was asked to stop, I probably wouldn't have said "human nature." I probably would have taken a run at the guy myself, or at least asked the cops to clear the scene.

    In hind sight though, and thinking purely unemotionally on the issue, that video could come in handy in any court proceeding, either civil or criminal. We went to the rose garden tonight to check it out. First of all, kudos to the city staff who tend to the Rose Garden, because aside from a tread mark or 2, and the missing bench, you could never have told what had happened there. I was amazed that the car traveled as far as it did, with someone mistakenly hitting the gas instead of the brake as the story went. Climbed the curve, through part of the garden, slight swerve to hit the bench, then another swerve to go into the tree and down beside the arena, actually into the arena building. I noticed a couple of boulders on the outskirts / south entrance to the garden. Perhaps the city should look at installing more boulders around the outside perimeter of the garden, so that should an incident of this type happen again, the car can hit a huge boulder rather than a frail human being.

    In final comment, my apologies for appearing "glib" with my comment about human nature and all. Never meant it in that regard and having read the comment again, can see how it was taken that way. Once again, if I offended, I apologize.

  8. Mr. Lundy

    Thank you for the response and clarification. That original comment did appear "glib" and not consistent with previous posts that you have written which is why it was so surprising. I appreciate your clarification and will continue to enjoy reading your posts. Again, congratulations on your pending nuptials.

  9. Hi Laureen,

    I haven't heard any updates since the original story. I'll keep my eyes peeled, and will post an update if I hear more.

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