FERNIE: The investigation continues and RCMP have not officially released names of a Coaldale family now grieving over a fatal collision.
The incident happened about 2:30 Sunday afternoon on Highway 3 about 8 km west of Fernie.
A family of five were returning home to Coaldale, when their vehicle left the road on a straight stretch and plunged into the Elk River, coming to rest upside down in the water.
Sergeant Don Erichsen with the Elk Valley RCMP explained that a passing Fernie couple witnessed the incident, and immediately took action, "The male entered the river, putting his own life at risk in doing so, in order to provide assistance to the people that were trapped inside the car. His efforts are commendable because this event would have been far more tragic had he not done what he did."
Erichsen noted however that the couple has asked for privacy at this time, "From the outside looking in we look at this and see a heroic act, but we have to understand and respect the fact that for the people that took action, this was a very traumatic incident that despite their best efforts somebody still lost their life. They're currently dealing with that, trying to come to grips with everything that happened."
Witnesses at the scene and RCMP members conducted CPR on the female passenger but tragically, she was pronounced dead at the Fernie Hospital. RCMP members and a traveling physician managed to revive a four year old child with CPR.
The male driver and one of his children were treated at Hospital for minor injuries including hypothermia. The other two children were transported to Alberta Children's Hospital by air ambulance with severe injuries.
Road conditions at the time of the collision were slushy due to an overnight snowfall.
The initial investigation into the collision has determined that the minivan may have been attempting to pass another vehicle and lost control on the slushy center area of the road.
The Fernie man who helped rescue the family was treated for hypothermia and released.