REGINA - An Alberta brother and sister who were among four people killed in a collision between a train and a camper van are being remembered fondly by their grandfather.
The seven-year-old boy from Turner Valley, Alta., and his 11-year-old sister were killed in a crash Thursday evening at an uncontrolled crossing near Broadview, Sask., about 150 kilometres east of Regina.
Police have not released any names. However, Glen Morrison said his grandson, Roy, and granddaughter, Bailey, were killed.
"This thing hasn't hardly hit us yet," Morrison told The Canadian Press in a phone interview from High River, Alta.
"We've had some family in, and friends, and we can't realize that this has happened. Probably about the middle of the night or tomorrow some time it'll hit us that this is a fact."
Morrison said Roy "was just a real vibrant boy" and Bailey was "a young, fine-looking girl, musical and very artistic."
Tragically, the siblings' father, Brian Morrison, died in 2008 in a farm accident, falling from a large grain silo.
The children's mother, Vicki, was a passenger in the van and was injured in the crash. Her 15-year-old son, Luke, was driving and was seriously injured.
An 11-year-old girl from Chestermere, Alta., and an 18-year-old woman from the Whitewood district in Saskatchewan were also killed. They were not related to the others in the van nor to each other, according to RCMP.
Vicki's father, Bill Thomson, was so busy on his farm Friday he couldn't even take time off to grieve, but he defended his grandson against any suggestion he was an inexperienced driver.
"He's been a driver and an operator on the farm for a long time," Thomson told Global Calgary. "He's had a learner's permit for long enough and within a couple of weeks he was due to go in and get a driver's licence.
He also said his grandson has told family members everything happened very quickly.
"He never saw anything until it was too late," Thomson said. "Then he thought the only thing he could do was try to get across. And that turns out to be the wrong decision."
Cpl. Rob King said the teen driver had a valid learner's permit. King was also reluctant to blame the crash on age.
"We've had lots of people get struck by trains or run into trains from a variety of ages, so to blame age or driver inexperience in this incident is premature," he said Friday at RCMP headquarters in Regina.
"I think we need to ... wait until the investigation is complete before we can even consider laying any type of blame or type of cause."
King said the train tracks ran parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway. The camper van turned south off the highway and was hit by the westbound Canadian Pacific train, which was travelling about 80 kilometres an hour.
"(The train) T-boned the van kind of right broad side and it was completely destroyed," said King.
King said the Transportation Safety Board and officials from Canadian Pacific will examine recording devices on the train. He did not know if the train had a camera on board.
King also said it would be very difficult to determine if there were any mechanical problems with the camper van because of the extent of the damage. It could be a minimum of three months before RCMP traffic analysts have a report on the crash, depending on when officials can talk to the survivors, he added.
Uncontrolled crossings are common in rural Saskatchewan. King said it's something that all drivers need to be aware of.
"But I think anyone that has driven in rural Saskatchewan for any length of period of time has probably had one of those crossings, where you've driven over an uncontrolled crossing and you've looked to your left or looked to your right, and seen a train a lot closer and you had no idea it was there," he said.
"It is not uncommon. It's probably happened to every single person that's driven in Saskatchewan for any length of time."
People in Turner Valley say they will rally around the Robinson family.
"It's a tragedy," Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck told CTV News. "Losing a family in any community is a tragedy. If there's anything we can do, this community will band together to do it for them."
-- with files from CTV News, Global Calgary