Victims of fatal 1966 crash memorialized at Oldcastle Heritage Park
It was a somber ceremony on Sunday, as family members and the community remembered the victims of one of the worst traffic collisions in the region’s history.
An emotional Anna Dube Harding stood at Oldcastle Heritage Park, as trees were planted to honour the death of her daughter, Anna Marie Dube and seven others.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” Harding says. “She died on the bus that day.”
On Dec. 21, 1966, a school bus filled with 24 children was taking the kids home from school. That’s when a truck filled with sand turned north onto Walker Road from Highway 3. The turn caused the truck to flip – spilling the load of sand onto the bus.
Susan Brown, Gary Curtis, Dube, Laurie Anne Leithead, Rhonda MacDonald, David McKee, Blaine Mills and Thomas O’Neil all lost their lives. Sixteen others were injured.
Now 48-years later, Harding says she lives for her sons. Filled with grief after losing her daughter, she moved to Kingsville.
“I had to for my sons, I had to live for them,” she says. “They were still very young too. So i moved away from here. I kept following buses and crying. I couldn't do it anymore.”
Wendy Pulleyblank suffered from similar grief. She remembers sitting in the car with her mother when the crash happened. Her brother and sister were thought to be on the bus.
“I remember kids screaming and my mom telling skids to get off the bus and don’t look behind them,” Pulleybank says. “My mom told my dad to grab a shovel and he ran down with the rest of the neighbours.”
Thankfully for Pulleybank, her siblings stayed behind to help their teacher clean up before the Christmas break.
“It devastated the community for years and it’s taken this long to pay tribute to children and survivors and personnel,” she says. “It was too painful.”
Eight trees now sit at Oldcastle Heritage Park next to a plaque that reads, “We will never forget”.
“Remember the children, never forget them. They were sweet innocent children. About time we have memories of the children,” Harding says.