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Seven teenagers killed in two accidents on Ontario highways

Peter Lee/The Canadian Press

Seven teenagers died in two car crashes on Ontario's icy roads in just four hours Tuesday, prompting provincial police to exhort parents to make sure their children are driving safely.

The first crash happened mid-afternoon on Highway 69 near Parry Sound. Barrie resident Jessica Chamberland, 19, and her 17-year-old cousin, Alyssa McKeown, were driving south when their car crossed the centre line. It was hit by two oncoming vehicles, including a sedan driven by Torry McIntyre-Courville, 18.

All three women died at the scene. One of Ms. McIntyre-Courville's passengers, 19-year-old Cole Howard, died of his injuries in hospital. Two other passengers, Nicholas Bradley, 19, and Connor Kennedy, 14, are fighting for their lives. All four were natives of the Sudbury area. On her Facebook page, Ms. McIntyre-Courville indicated she worked as a bartender in nearby Lively.

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Only a few hours later, a minivan carrying four 19-year-old Laurentian University students slid into oncoming traffic on Highway 17, where it was hit by a jeep. Two of the teens, Keegan Melville and Zabrina Rekowski, were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, Hillary Afelskie, died in hospital Wednesday. Emily Olmstead remained hospitalized.

All four teens were from around Renfrew, a town of about 8,000 people 90 kilometres west of Ottawa. They were returning to Sudbury after spending the holidays back home.

On Facebook, Mr. Melville's friends memorialized him as a talented bass player and said he was in his first year studying music at Laurentian.

Police said winter weather played a part in both crashes. Tuesday was a frigid day, with temperatures plunging into the minus double-digits.

"It is critical that motorists adjust their driving behaviour to the weather conditions, which can change rapidly and without warning. Driving too fast for the road conditions is the number one cause of winter collisions," the OPP's traffic safety commander, Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, said in a statement. "Even on a sunny day, black ice is a constant danger and drivers should always assume its presence."

The OPP asked parents to talk to their children about the dangers of winter driving.

With files from The Canadian Press

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