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Amqui deaths: suspect facing charges as victims identified

The alleged driver who killed two people and injured nine others in a pickup truck in the small Quebec town of Amki on Monday has been charged with dangerous driving causing death.

Steve Gagnon, 38, appeared in court Tuesday afternoon to formally enter charges related to the incident, which police say was an intentional act.

Wearing a t-shirt and glasses, he was escorted to the courthouse by police as those gathered outside the building shouted at him, calling him “rotten” in French.

The Crown said Tuesday afternoon that the defendant faces additional charges.

“The police investigation is not over at this time. There are many witnesses who have yet to be interviewed, so there is more information to be gathered,” said prosecutor Simon Blanchett.

Detention was chosen as a preventive measure against him, and he will return to court on April 5.

The police claimed that the driver swerved several hundred meters from one side of the road to the other to randomly hit pedestrians.

Authorities have identified the two individuals who died as a result of an accident on Saint-Benoit Boulevard in the city of Amki, which has about 6,000 inhabitants. In the Lower St. Lawrence region.

Steve Gagnon is escorted by police to court in Amki, Que., Tuesday, March 14, 2023. Gagnon was charged in connection with an incident in which a pickup truck driver plowed into pedestrians, killing two people and injuring nine others. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissanot

Sgt. Claude Doiron of Surete du Quebec said Jean Lafreniere, 73, and Gérald Charest, 65, were killed while walking on the side of the road. Nine others were injured and taken to hospital, including a nine-month-old in a pram and a three-year-old baby.

The children were seriously injured, but their lives are not in danger.

David Morin, a local resident, said that he witnessed the panic moments that followed the tragedy. A shaken Morin told reporters Tuesday that she couldn’t get the image of one of the victims out of her head.

“He was alive when I arrived, but when I went to see another person, I came back and he was dead,” he said.

Amqui resident Ken Morrow said he heard a “big boom” at the time of the crash.

“There was a truck coming towards me, people were flying everywhere, I just had time to duck and avoid being hit,” he said.

Investigators with the crash coroner’s office are on the scene to determine how fast the driver was going and how long he was on Highway 132 before the vehicle struck the pedestrians.

A baby’s stroller lies on its side at the scene of a fatal accident Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Amqui Que. Two people were killed and nine others injured Monday afternoon when a pickup truck plowed into pedestrians walking on the side of a road in the eastern Quebec town of Amqui. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissanot

The alleged driver turned himself into a local police department Monday, according to Sgt. Doiron:

“He was fit to drive, but what about his state of mind at the time of his actions, that still needs to be assessed,” SQ Sergeant said at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Quebec police said they believe the incident was not an act of terrorism, adding that it was an isolated incident and the work of one person.


Six victims were airlifted to Enfant-Jesus Hospital in Quebec City. Four of the six patients are adults, two are children. According to the representative of the hospital, three of the adults there are in critical condition. The condition of the children is stable.

One victim remains in Amqui hospital, his condition is stable.

“I wanted to be here in solidarity with the victims,” ​​said Amqui resident Julie Ouellet, who knew some of the victims. “I saw them on the ground yesterday.”

“It is a tragedy for the population. It’s a tragedy for all areas of the care team, the on-site staff, the medical team, all the staff members,” said Claudie Deschenes, director of the Mental Health and Addictions Program for Lower. St. Lawrence County Board of Health.

Police officers investigate the scene of a fatal crash Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Amqui Que. Two people were killed and nine others injured Monday afternoon when a pickup truck plowed into pedestrians walking on the side of a road in the eastern Quebec town of Amqui. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissanot

Relatives of the victims are provided with psychological support, which will be available in the coming days.

“We’re going to make sure we’re offering services to everyone who needs them,” he said.

Deschenes said people can call 811 option 2 if they need assistance.

“People know each other well, because we are a small place, a small village,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are able to respond to people who have needs here and now. So in a crunch, then. But after that, certainly in the next few days, people could be affected … so we want to make sure that we can respond to the needs.”


Quebec Premier Francois Legault spoke about mental illness at a news conference in Quebec City on Tuesday, saying his government is working to reduce the waiting list for mental health resources.

“All Quebecers are shocked,” he said of the fatal crash.

He said the Amqui incident was “disheartening” and had sparked feelings of anger as it was the second time in a month that people had been killed by a car in what was believed to be a deliberate act. On February 8, two children died and several others were injured after a Laval bus driver crashed his car into a kindergarten.

“We cannot lose hope and we must fight against it,” said the Prime Minister.

“I guess I’m angry thinking this is happening again. But we must be stronger together.”


Avignon–La Mitis–Matane–Matapédia Bloc Québécois MP Cristina Michaud grew up in the small, peaceful town of Amki and was in the area when she started seeing the news on social media.

“Friends were texting and calling to see if we were OK, if my family was OK,” she told CTV News.

After waiting for the scene to calm down, Michaud went to the area and was shocked to see what had happened to the main street of the town of 6,000 people.

“It’s a scene that sticks in the mind,” Michaud said. “It’s really rare for us to live in such situations, it’s not like in big cities, big centers. We’re a quiet, small town.”

A 38-year-old driver was arrested in Amki for hit-and-run causing death (photo: Noovo Info)

Michaud’s mother, stepfather and grandfather walk every day in the same spot where the pedestrians were hit on Monday, but for various reasons were not taking the same route when the tragedy occurred.

He said it’s a popular place to walk, especially when the weather is like Monday.

“It was a beautiful spring day and there were a lot of people around, no school that day,” Michaud said. “There were many young people, there were many families.”

The local community is now reeling with questions about what happened and why.

“It’s a lot to take in. We’re a small community, everybody knows everybody, so we all know people who were witnesses, people who were injured or died, and people who were first responders,” he said. “It’s really a lot for a small community like ours.”

Michaud and other area leaders must now work to help residents feel safe and secure.

“We often talk about our region as a place where nothing like this can happen, we are usually safe in this community,” he said. “It feels like we can’t say that anymore because we’re not safe… We’re going through this together, which is a good thing, even though it’s a sad event.”

The Center for Health and Social Services in the Lower St. Lawrence (CISSS-BSL) has established a special support line for those directly or indirectly affected by the tragedy.


Quebec Public Safety Minister François Bonnardel arrived in Amki on Tuesday to speak with community members and survey the crash site.

Bonnardel said he struggled to understand why the tragedy happened. “The investigation will tell us what happened to this man and we’ll see after that,” Bonnardel told reporters.

Quebec Public Safety Minister Francois Bonnardel speaks to reporters Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Amki, Que. (Noovo Info)

Bonnerdel and other officials urged community residents to seek psychological help to cope with the tragedy.

“It has a huge impact on Amki’s community of around 6,000 people. We support Amki as a government… we will do everything we can to support the Amki community,” Bonnardel said.

Parti Québécois MNA Pascal Bérubé echoed those sentiments.

“It’s a big impact,” he said. “We need to stand together and make sure that her terrible accident is about hope. We have to take care of the families of people who are now dead, people who are injured. People who are under stress right now are getting help, they need it.”

With files from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin and The Canadian Press

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