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Saskatchewan RCMP say too early to lay blame in train-van crash that killed four

A Canadian Pacific Railway train makes its way through the Alberta Rockies in August of 2001.

ADRIAN WYLD/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan RCMP say it's too soon to know what caused a horrific collision between a train and a camper van that left four people dead and two injured.

A 15-year-old boy from Alberta was driving, but Cpl. Rob King said the teen had a valid learner's permit. King was reluctant to blame his age for the crash.

"We've had lots of people get struck by trains or run into trains from a variety of ages, so to blame age or driver inexperience in this incident is premature," he said Friday at RCMP headquarters.

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"I think we need to ... wait until the investigation is complete before we can even consider laying any type of blame or type of cause."

The crash Thursday evening was at an uncontrolled crossing near Broadview, about 150 kilometres east of Regina.

King said the train tracks ran parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway. The camper van turned south off the highway and was hit by the westbound Canadian Pacific train, which was travelling about 80 kilometres an hour.

"(The train) T-boned the van kind of right broad side and it was completely destroyed."

The 15-year-old driver was seriously injured and was taken to hospital in Regina by air ambulance. His condition was unknown Friday.

King confirmed that the dead included the driver's seven-year-old brother and 11-year-old sister. The children's 42-year-old mother was also injured in the crash. The family was from Turner Valley, Alta.

An 11-year-old girl from Chestermere, Alta., and an 18-year-old woman from the Whitewood district in Saskatchewan were also killed. They were not related to the others in the van nor to each other, according to RCMP.

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No names were released.

King said the Transportation Safety Board and CP will examine recording devices on the train. He did not know if the train had a camera on board.

King also said it would be very difficult to determine if there were any mechanical problems with the camper van because of the extent of the damage. It could be a minimum of three months before RCMP traffic analysts have a report on the crash, depending on when officials can talk to the survivors, he added.

Uncontrolled crossings are common in rural Saskatchewan. King said it's something that all drivers need to be aware of.

"But I think anyone that has driven in rural Saskatchewan for any length of period of time has probably had one of those crossings, where you've driven over an uncontrolled crossing and you've looked to your left or looked to your right, and seen a train a lot closer and you had no idea it was there," he said.

"It is not uncommon. It's probably happened to every single person that's driven in Saskatchewan for any length of time."

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