It happened on a busy stretch of highway that runs east-west through Laval, the province’s third-largest city.
Two tractor-trailers and several cars were involved in collisions at the exit leading to the interchange for Highway 15, which runs north to the Laurentians and south to Montreal.
Police say at least one of the trucks hit a passenger vehicle, setting off a chain reaction. A thick cloud of black smoke could be seen billowing in the air.
Provincial police asked anyone who may have witnessed the moments preceding the crash at around 3:30 p.m. Monday to come forward.
Police said all four victims died at the scene, but identifying them could take time.
“The victims aren’t easily identifiable,” said Sgt. Daniel Thibodeau. “There’s also the vehicle identification numbers, but some of the burned vehicles are too damaged to make out those identification numbers.”
Investigators also hope to speak to survivors of the incident once their health allows it.
Public’s help sought to determine cause of Laval highway crash that left 4 dead, 15 injured https://t.co/Qel4OlIHp1
— CBC Montreal (@CBCMontreal) August 6, 2019
Quebec Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel promised immediate action Tuesday, even though little is known about the cause of the crash.
Bonnardel said that since 2013, there have been about 10 accidents at the interchange, including one other fatality. The transport minister said that in the short term, safety in the area will be improved by extending the portion that forbids drivers from merging at the last minute to exit the highway and access the service road.
“We will do it to change the behaviour of drivers, to stop them from entering at the last minute,” Bonnardel said, noting that roughly 300,000 vehicles use Highways 440 and 15 daily.
In the longer term, Bonnardel said an assessment will be done across the province to identify spots where similar measures are needed.
The minister noted that a lot of interchanges in Quebec—many of which are just as heavily travelled—have configurations that are 40 to 50 years old.
Bonnardel offered his condolences and praised the work of first responders who helped at the scene during a visit to the area on Tuesday alongside Finance Minister Eric Girard, who is also the minister responsible for the Laval region, and Laval Mayor Marc Demers.