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The Globe and Mail

Three Quebec cyclists die in accident involving pickup

Police examine the scene where a pickup truck plowed into a group of cyclists Friday, May 14, 2010, in Rougemont, Quebec, south of Montreal.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Six cyclists were entangled in a scene of carnage on a Quebec highway Friday as scraps of twisted metal were scattered along a wide stretch of pavement Friday.

Three were declared dead. All were injured.

The accident involving a pickup truck in Rougemont, just south of Montreal, caused a shutdown of debris-strewn Highway 112.

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There were speed bikes, helmets, sunglasses and even a sports watch scattered across a large distance, while orange police tape separated the road from the neighbouring municipality.

The group of six, which included five women and one man, were all members of a Montreal-area cycling club. All the deceased were women.

One neighbour said her children rushed to the window when they heard a loud crash. The kids looked outside to see bodies strewn across the road.

Cars came to a screeching halt to help the injured, said the neighbour, Brigitte Bourdeau.

Among those administering first aid, police said, was the motorist involved in the accident. They said they would be interrogating the pickup driver later, but had already concluded he hadn't been drinking.

"Alcohol is not a factor," said provincial police Sgt. Claude Denis.

"He was not injured and will meet with investigators in a little while to give details to shine a light on this tragedy."

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Denis said weather also doesn't appear to have been a factor: "It was cloudy but it wasn't raining."

Several people in the area called that stretch of road particularly dangerous for cycling. The speed limit on the two-lane highway was 90 kilometres per hour, but residents said that was rarely respected.

"It's very dangerous. The cars drive too fast," said Bruno Marcil, an avid cyclist who travels often along the road.

"It doesn't surprise me they got hit, the cars drive so fast here."

Police said there was a bike path nearby but the cyclists weren't found on it. The path had paved and gravel parts, and the bicycles had thin tires.

Marcil had been returning from a camping trip along the unpaved bicycle path when he stopped to check out the scene of the accident.

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It was not immediately clear how many of the cyclists were hit directly by the pickup truck.

"There was a chain reaction," Denis said.

"Our accident investigators are there trying to figure out what happened."

Bruno Sevigny, a member of the same club who was riding about an hour behind his six colleagues, was in shock.

"It's obviously very dangerous here," he said.

Friday's tragedy bore a chilling resemblance to a similar incident last summer in Ottawa, when five experienced cyclists were also struck.

None of them died, but one spent months recovering in hospital. The driver in that incident has been charged with hit-and-run.

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