At around 10 a.m. this morning, Aug. 13, a car drove through an office near the main entrance of Dr. G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital, causing extensive damage and an evacuation of the hospital.
Witnesses say the driver sped from the entrance to the hospital parking lot on Manitoba Drive, up over the curb, up an embankment and through a glass window.
RCMP later confirmed that an 66-year-old woman from Lethbridge was the driver of the vehicle.
Boyd Snook was at the hospital registering for an appointment and was exiting the building when the crash took place.
“It wasn’t stopping,” he says. “It just went straight through, hit the curb, and when it hit the curb, it lifted and went through the window. It came from the road and went straight on through.”
Snook and another man went in through the broken window to help the woman out of the car, and Snook cut the top of his head on broken glass. He says hospital staff were in the room when he got in and they were told to move away by security.
Ivan Paul had arrived just after the car entered the hospital and was walking up to the front entrance when staff came rushing out.
“(We) were walking up the steps, and going through the cross walk, and everyone was coming back out shouting, ‘You have to get out, a lady went through the window.’ Then I glanced over and saw it.”
Paul says he was amazed the woman missed the brick wall and trees on either side of the window.
“It’s amazing how she went through it. The trees are there. A matter of six inches and she would have hit the concrete,” he says.
Two witnesses reported smelling fumes after the crash, and firefighters doused the car with foam as it was loaded onto a flatbed.
Eleanor Kutasy was visiting a relative in the hospital when a Code Blue came through the PA system, then it quickly became Code Red.
“Code Red came across, and everyone had got into action and said everyone had to leave. Patients had to be back in their room and locked down. They escorted us out through the main (entrance),” she says.
“Fire trucks were already starting to come in. Everything was panicky. You could smell the smoke and the fumes in the air.”
Stephen Bonnell works in the IT department at the hospital. He says he and his coworkers heard a rattle, and shortly after the fire alarm went off and a Code Blue.
“We were kind of confused by that, a fire alarm then a Code Blue,” he says. “Then it was announced at a very fast pace, Code Red. It didn’t take long for the smoke to drift through the hospital.”
Bonnell says it was lucky no one was in the office at the time.
“Obviously the first thing you think of was anyone injured or killed,” he says. “Then we found they had removed the lady from the car.”
Patients and staff were waiting outside the main entrance for word to go back in as of press deadline, and the cause of the crash was still unconfirmed. RCMP say the woman was consious at the time of the accident. She was treated for minor injuries, according to Eastern Health.
To view a slideshow of the aftermath, CLICK HERE.