WATCH: First responders are reeling in the Alberni Valley after a traumatic day of two fatal crashes and an incident of RCMP officers being bear sprayed Tuesday.
As Skye Ryan reports, the day started with the attack on the officers and first responders said it turned into the most intense day many of them can ever remember.
Rick Geddes was readying rescue equipment at the Sproat Lake Fire Hall Wednesday. after a traumatic 24 hours that left many first responders shaken.
“[It was] very rare,” said the deputy chief of the Sproat Lake Fire Department.
“In my career, I can’t remember where we’ve had another day like that.”
“I’m sure it’s affecting the whole community,” said Cpl. Amelia Hayden of Port Alberni RCMP.
“I mean this is a lot to happen for any community and Port Alberni’s not very big.”
Port Alberni RCMP officers said the intense Tuesday started on Redford Street just after 7 a.m. when a stolen truck and trailer crashed on the side of the road, and a man fleeing the vehicle bear sprayed officers who tried to arrest him.
The man and a woman who was also in the truck are still at large.
“It was extremely disturbing and really dangerous for our members because you just don’t know what happens and sometimes when people are bear sprayed, the whole idea is it incapacitates you at the time right as far as your vision,” said Hayden
Then four hours later in dense fog that enveloped the valley, a fatal crash happened at Burde Street and Carrier Road when a 62-year-old woman’s car collided with a pickup truck.
“And unfortunately a 62-year-old woman from the Port Alberni area passed away in that incident,” said Hayden.
Then five hours later just west of Port Alberni and next to the Sproat Lake fire hall, a 79-year-old man died when the car he was driving crossed the centre line and collided with a dump truck going in the opposite direction, then hit another car before all three went off the road.
“We saw a lot of raw emotion yesterday,” said Cpl. Patrick Jenkins of Port Alberni RCMP.
“My heart goes out to those people who lost loved ones yesterday and actually I knew one of [them]. I was at each of the scenes and I knew one of the people that passed away yesterday so it was quite raw.”