Toronto Star ePaper

Teens killed in crash were Chinese students

Family identifies fifth victim as Huntsville woman Jessica Ward


Four Chinese students have died in a car crash “near Toronto” over the weekend, the Chinese consulate in Toronto says.

In a statement released Monday, the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China said the four students died in a “serious traffic accident” on Saturday, the same day four teens and a woman died in a crash near Huntsville.

“Our embassy immediately activated the emergency mechanism and verified the situation with the Ontario Provincial Police as soon as possible,” the consulate’s statement reads. “At the same time, we quickly contacted the families of the foreign students concerned.”

Provincial police were called shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday to the two-vehicle collision on Highway 60 near Hidden Valley Road.

Police said a Mercedes SUV with the four males ages 15 to 17, from North York and Richmond Hill, were heading westbound on Highway 60, while the 42-year-old woman was heading eastbound in a Ford SUV.

The woman and three of the teens were pronounced dead at the scene, while the fourth teen was taken to hospital where he died.

The consulate did not identify the killed teens. Huntsville OPP spokesperson Dana Morris said in an email police will not be releasing the identities of the victims.

Family of the 42-year-old woman has identified her as Jessica Ward, of Huntsville, who is being remembered by loved ones and colleagues as a loving mother with an infectious laugh.

A single mother and the second eldest of three sisters, Ward would prioritize her two teenage children above everything else, Ward’s stepfather, Nick Van Erp, said.

Van Erp, speaking on behalf of Ward’s family, described her as a fun, outgoing and loving person who enjoyed trips to Florida with her daughter and son.

“She was a very strong-willed, outspoken person,” he said.

According to the Town of Huntsville Mayor Nancy Alcock, the local coroner is probing the deaths.

“We’re all grieving with the families who are impacted by this,” said Alcock, describing Ward as a wellknown in the community of roughly 22,000.

From organizing meals to an outpouring of tributes online, the town is rallying behind Ward’s family, Alcock noted. “The kids are suffering an incredible loss. The whole thing is tragic,” she said.

Ward was an accounting clerk on the finance team at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare, the hospital said in a statement posted to social media Monday.

An online fundraiser organized to support Ward’s two kids had raised nearly $35,000 as of Monday night.





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