It was a day along Highway 401 that emergency services or people who were involved won’t soon forget.
On Thursday, July 28, 2022 there were numerous collisions along Highway 401 between Cobourg and Colborne on both the east and westbound lanes.
The weather was near perfect, but it seemed one after the other vehicles collided.
One person was tragically killed in one collision on Highway 401 westbound, west of Colborne when a vehicle collided with a transport.
Another serious collision happened at 2:29 p.m. when emergency services were dispatched to a transport that collided with a Cadillac SUV just east of Gully Road overpass in the westbound lanes of Highway 401 east of Cobourg.
Emergency services were told there were “several” children involved in the collision.
When Today’s Northumberland arrived, numerous people were being treated by paramedics. Some had already been loaded onto stretchers and taken by ambulance to hospital.
Others were up against the median wall being treated by paramedics, firefighters and police.
Several ambulances lined the shoulder of the highway.
But one image in all the chaos stood out.
A Northumberland OPP officer sitting with a youth who was involved in the collision. The youth had no shoes on, and was holding a teddy bear. He was wearing a neckbrace and the officer was helping to brace his head for support.
Today’s Northumberland reached out to the Northumberland OPP officer to get the story behind the photo.
The officers name is Constable Keith Lindley who is a member of the OPP’s Emergency Response Team (ERT). ERT members assist canine backup, search and rescue and high-risk prisoner escorts.
Lindley is a veteran officer who has earned a Medal of Bravery with the Toronto Police Service along with a Medal of Bravery for Canada.
For most of the day Lindley was accompanied by several other ERT members and a canine unit on a search near Cobourg.
After the search, Lindley was called to “multiple” collisions on Highway 401 assisting frontline officers.
Hearing the call of a vehicle and transport collision where several children were injured, Lindley immediately responded.
“Every officer is going to respond as quickly as they can when that (child involved) comes over the radio.”
The collision involved two, twin brothers aged 10-years-old from Picton, their 12-year-old cousin from Ennismore and their grandmother from Bridgenorth.
The grandmother had picked up the two brothers and girl and was taking them to her house for the long weekend.
They were stopped, or nearly stopped because traffic was so congested when a transport slammed into the back of the SUV tossing it into the median wall.
When Lindley arrived he said it was “hectic” scene, with Northumberland County Paramedics, Alnwick/Haldimand Township firefighters and Northumberland OPP officers treating the injured and looking for any dangers including spills from both vehicles.
“There was a great team effort by the fire, ambulance and everybody on scene working collaboratively to respond to this family in need.”
Lindley said the family was gathered by the median wall and visibly upset at what had just happened.
“The grandmother said to me they’ve looked constantly for the little girl’s glasses and they can’t find them in the vehicle.”
Without the glasses the girl couldn’t make out anyone who she was talking too – including emergency responders.
Lindley climbed inside the wrecked vehicle and looked for the glasses, eventually finding them along with several of the children’s cell phones.
“When the little girl put on the glasses, it brought that emotion to her that she could see the paramedics, the fire and the police that were all around her and (she) could see her cousins.”
Lindley said, “it’s the little things that help at an accident scene that you can do to comfort them.”
Everyone had been loaded and transported to hospital except for one of the twins. When Lindley saw the child, he sat down with him and tried his best to comfort him while waiting for another ambulance to arrive.
A Northumberland County Paramedic Supervisor checked on the boy who didn’t appear to be seriously injured. The boy was given a teddy bear and blanket while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Lindley never left the child the entire time until the ambulance arrived.
Along with the paramedic supervisor, Lindley helped the boy call his parents to let them know he was alright.
“Being at the age he is, there is a lot going on.”
As a father of two daughters, Lindley said you do your best to take away any fear they have.
“It’s difficult. You’re seeing the emotion of the kids and it makes it better when you hear that that child is able to talk to their father on the phone. The call to the family really assisted in the child’s thoughts to get him off the pain of the accident.”
During the time Lindley was with the child. he explained the priority of the people that were transported to hospital and why they were transported before him.
“I got to know a little bit about his family and where he was from.”
The child spoke to the paramedic and said he liked talking to the officer, “dressed all in green.”
The last words that Lindley said to the child was that, “the paramedics would take great care of him, and keep being so brave and strong.”
“I told him, I will meet up with all his family at the hospital and everyone is going to be ok, and who I was if he needed anything “remember the officer in green” that he hung out with.”
Lindley never got to meet the child at the hospital because he was called away to another serious collision along the highway.
Seeing so many tragic collisions over the years, Lindley said, “it’s great when we can come together and have a great outcome at a large accident scene like this.”
Neither of the 10-year-old brothers suffered any broken bones or major injuries.
Their 12-year-old cousin suffered a broken leg, but no major injuries.
The grandmother suffered no broken limbs or major injuries.
The collision is still under investigation.