MIRAMICHI, N.B. — Four teenagers from eastern New Brunswick died late Saturday when the vehicle they were in flipped after it veered off a wet, rural road and landed on its roof in a ditch filled with icy water.
The Miramichi Police Force said heroic efforts were made to save the two males and two females, but all four later died from their injuries at Miramichi Regional Hospital.
Police said the victims were 17-year-old Cassie Lloyd of Escuminac, 18-year-old Emma Connick of Baranaby, 17-year-old Logan Matchett and 16-year-old Avery Astle, both from Strathadam.
There was no evidence to suggest drugs or alcohol were a factor, but it was raining at the time, police said Sunday in a statement.
Police say speed and poor road conditions may have contributed to the crash, which happened around 10:30 p.m. on Nelson Street, south of Route 118.
Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon posted on Twitter that he was devastated when he heard about the deadly crash.
"My heart breaks for the four teens and their families," Lordon said in a tweet. "The love, support and prayers of the whole Miramichi are with them today and always."
Two local high schools were opened Sunday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to give students an opportunity to meet with grief counsellors.
The local member of the legislature, Michelle Conroy, issued a statement that said she learned about the crash from her youngest son.
"He knows the four people who were travelling together," Conroy said.
"It's every parent's worst nightmare. Words can't describe the heart-break ... In a small community, it hurts everyone. Everybody is feeling the pain and was touched, in some way, by these kids."
The Anglophone North School District confirmed that two of the victims attended James M. Hill Memorial High School in Miramichi, and the other two attended North and South Esk Regional High School in nearby Sunny Corner.
Meredith Caissie, a spokeswoman for the Anglophone North School District, said the school authority is taking steps to help people cope.
"With everything that has happened over the last several hours, our concern and our thoughts are with the families, students and our school community," she said in an interview from Miramichi.
"Our focus right now is providing support for our students and staff."
Both schools issued similar statements on Facebook.
"In difficult times like what we are now experiencing, it is important to support one another, and to look after one another," the statement said. "We encourage our students to reach out for any support they may need at this time."
Messages expressing condolences filled the Facebook page for James M. Hill Memorial High School.
Amid many images of broken hearts, some tried to put their raw feelings into words.
"Just heart-broken," said one message."No words can express the grief. My heart, prayers and thoughts go out to all."
— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax