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Living with tragedy


It’s been 35 years, but Gerald Synard said he remembers the event almost every day.

Paul Herridge Photo
Gerald Synard, Mike Lake and Richard Norman — survivors of the Canadian Pacific Rail’s Prairie Region Steel Gang bus crash in Saskatchewan in May 1980 — watch Father John Arhin bless a new stone plaque at the memorial outside Christ the King Church in Rushoon Thursday.

Last Thursday, May 28, marked the anniversary of the deadly three-vehicle crash near Webb, Sask., that claimed the lives of 22 people, including 12 from Newfoundland. They were workers with Canadian Pacific Rail’s Prairie Region Steel Gang.

A tanker truck that was carrying liquid asphalt struck the bus they were riding in from behind.

Of the 22 killed, 10 were from the Burin Peninsula, including four from Rushoon.

A memorial service was held at Christ the King Church in the community Thursday evening.

Synard was one of eight men spared.

“There’s a lot of survivor’s guilt,” he told The Southern Gazette after the event.

The weeks leading up to the anniversary are particularly tough, the Parker’s Cove native said.

“You get pretty on edge,” he said. “There’s all kinds of emotions that start to take over.”

Vyonne Edwards said she vividly remembers every moment of May 28, 1980.

He brother, Adrian Drake, was killed in the crash and it took three weeks for his body to be identified.

“Everyone had their funerals and had it over with, but it was still ongoing for us,” she said.

Annual memorial services were started five years ago on the 30th anniversary.

At that time, Synard and the three Rushoon survivors — Richard Norman, Mike Lake and Angus Moores — led an effort to erect a monument on the grounds outside Christ the King. A new stone plaque featuring the names of the victims and survivors, donated by Rex and Lorraine Blundon of Serenity Funeral Home, was unveiled and blessed at last week’s service.

Synard and Edwards said the monument and annual memorials have helped ease the hurt.

Synard said, for many years it seemed as if the accident was swept under the rug and not discussed.

“That was a bad thing,” he said.

The monument has been especially important for her 83-year-old mother, Edwards said.

“We come here probably once a month in the summertime and the fall, whenever we can get here. We go for a drive and this is where she wants to be,” Edwards said.

 

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

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