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7 Kids Die in Canada Road Accident

March 17, 2000

ST.-JEAN-BAPTISTE-DE-NICOLET, Quebec (AP) _ Seven small children on a day-care outing were killed Thursday when the minivan they were riding in swerved out of control and crashed into an oncoming vehicle.

The three other children in the van were hospitalized with serious head injuries, police said. The driver, whose son was among the dead, and an adult passenger suffered minor injuries.

The van was taking the preschoolers to the country to sample maple sugar when the crash occurred near this town, about 70 miles north of Montreal. Police said the minivan careened into the oncoming lane and was hit broadside by the other vehicle. The accident site was about a mile from the daycare center.

Some of the children were thrown onto a roadside field and were still there when some parents arrived. ``It was a pretty horrible scene,″ provincial police spokesman Daniel Lamirande said.

The victims ranged in age from 2 to 5 years old. Police said they did not know if they were wearing seat belts.

Police said they didn’t know what caused the minivan to swerve. Government officials said an investigation was under way.

Wayne Kroeker, the driver of the other car, told television station LCN that he saw the woman driving the minivan only at the last second.

``Then it was the shock of seeing the kids everywhere in the field,″ he said.

``Everyone will be saddened by this,″ said Charles Dupuis, who lives in a farmhouse near the accident site. ``Everyone knows each other here.″

Prime Minister Jean Chretien expressed his sympathies, while the Quebec legislature held a minute of silence to remember the children.

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