Drivers trapped on Highway 13 file lawsuit
Published Thursday, March 16, 2017 5:29PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 17, 2017 7:58AM EDT
While the Sureté du Quebec apologizes for the Highway 13 debacle, those who were trapped for hours in the storm say it's not enough.
Hundreds of people were stranded when the road between Highway 40 and Highway 20 was closed Tuesday evening.
On Thursday those trapped filed a class action lawsuit against the Ministry of Transportation, the Sureté du Quebec, and Public Security, for $2,000 each.
Despite several conference calls among emergency planners, nobody from the Ministry of Transportation informed anyone that people were trapped, and the Sureté du Quebec failed to take steps to get vehicles and people off the highway.
Marlene Berman was one of those people trapped.
"We could see ourselves on the Transport Quebec cameras. We had logged into the site," she said.
"We called 9-1-1 and they put us through to the SQ. And the SQ's response was 'well we'll get to you when we get to you' and they hung up on us."
While some abandoned their cars and walked back to Highway 40, others went from vehicle to vehicle to share what little they had.
"There was a Provigo transport truck beside me... his dispatcher was telling him, about 1 a.m., that we were there for at least another four hours," said Berman.
Throughout there was a sense of helplessness and outrage.
"The person in front of me was clearly having a panic attack, hitting his car with his snowbrush. The guy behind me at one point got out of his car and he was screaming out of frustration. It was very surreal," said Berman.
The SQ officer in charge of operations has been suspended, as has a civil servant with the Ministry of Transportation.
Premier Philippe Couillard has ordered an external investigation into the incompetent handling of the event.
Berman and others who were stuck have since formed a Facebook group to stay in touch and to discuss their legal options.