Emergency responders were kept busy on Monday, Nov. 23 as central Alberta got its first taste of serious winter snow, sending drivers into ditches, large trucks stuck on steep hills, and many to the hospital with a range of injuries.
Some, unfortunately, went to the morgue, including MLA Manmeet Bhullar, who was killed after he exited his vehicle and went to help another. He was struck by a semi that lost control and killed.
In Stettler County, though, drivers managed to keep themselves on the road for the most part, Stettler RCMP Cpl. Cameron Russell said. The few collisions resulted in minor injuries only, and happened mostly west of the Town of Stettler.
The first call for assistance came around 3 p.m., and police were kept hopping for most of the afternoon and into the evening.
Around 3 p.m., a weather-related collision at the intersection of highways 11 and 12 gummed up traffic while emergency crews cleaned up the scene and plows worked to clear away the ever-falling snow. Down the road, at highways 21 and 11 at the Nevis gas plant, was a popular place for minor fender benders, including a collision between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck that again gummed up traffic for hours.
Several larger trucks also got stuck on the steep hill near the Nevis gas plant and at McKenzie’s Crossing.
East of town, at the intersection of highways 12 and 852 near Gadsby, a 75-year-old man misjudged his turn and slid into the ditch.
No one suffered anything more than minor injuries in these incidents.
The RCMP are reminding people to be prepared for winter weather and mishaps, whether it’s being stuck in a ditch or just in traffic while a collision is cleaned off the road. Top up all fluids and keep the gas tank full, and keep an emergency kit in the vehicle that can see you through a few hours in the cold.
The RCMP received several complaints last week about poachers and “unethical hunting,” Russell said.
Sometime between Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21, a cow was shot and killed in the Red Willow area. Another complaint came in about hunters shooting onto a property from the road. The owner of the property had not given permission for hunting on the property, and reports indicate the hunters may have been using spotlights, which is illegal.
“If you see what you believe is poaching, call the police or fish and wildlife,” Russell said.
Be wary of Christmas scams
With Christmas only a few weeks away, the Stettler RCMP are reminding people to be on their guard against scammers looking to gull innocent folks out of their money and personal information.
Throughout the year, especially during tax season, phone scammers make the rounds, usually claiming to be from a financial institution like a bank or credit union, or the Canadian Revenue Agency. These scammers will ask a lot of personal questions, like birthdates, account numbers, card numbers.
If these agencies are phoning looking for this information, it is a scam, Stettler RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Phil Penny said.
“They already have this information and don’t need to be asking for it again,” he explained.
Another type of phone scam that dials around the year targets the elderly. Scammers claim to be a grandchild and frantically explain they’re in some sort of trouble while in another province or country. They need bail money, and the supposed grandchild doesn’t want his or her parents to know.
The grandparent will be directed to wire money to a location, often overseas.
With Christmas here, though, charity scams ramp up. People go door-to-door and try to solicit donations for various charities. Legitimate organizations are required to have some form of identification, whether it’s an ID on a landyard, a jacket with the organization’s logo or name, or even a decaled vehicle.
“We encourage people to ask for forms of ID,” Penny said. “If you don’t feel comfortable that the person truly represents the organization, simply tell them as such.”