Six people in their early 20s died in a single-vehicle accident near Barrie, Ont., over the weekend after being reported missing late Saturday, prompting an outpouring of condolences from across Ontario.
Barrie Police Service said Sunday that officers found a crashed vehicle at about 2 a.m. ET Sunday near McKay Road and County Road 27 – a rural intersection near Barrie’s southwestern edge and about 90 kilometres north of Toronto. The service posted on Twitter that “additional details will be released only as the investigation permits.”
In an e-mail, Barrie Police spokesperson Jennett Mays said four men and two women, all in their early 20s, died in the crash.
Though the force did not name the victims, several sports associations identified three of them on social media as local lacrosse player Luke West and football players River Wells and Curtis King. Though other names were widely circulated on social media, friends and family did not immediately respond to queries seeking confirmation.
The Barrie Minor Lacrosse Association and the city’s Bombers Jr. C. Lacrosse Club wrote in Facebook posts that Mr. West was a lifelong lacrosse player and a two-time provincial minor lacrosse league champion.
“He was a locker room favourite due to his toughness, tenacity, and incredible lacrosse IQ,” both associations wrote in Facebook posts Sunday. Mr. West was born in 2000, the posts said, and had spent time as both a player and coach with numerous Barrie teams.
“The impact that you had on your teammates, coaches, and the young men you coached is immeasurable, the posts continued. “Few have ever worked harder in Bomber Blue, few can claim to have lifted us so high.”
In a post to social media, Simcoe County Football confirmed that two of the victims of the crash were Mr. King and Mr. Wells, who had played for local high-school teams.
“SCF sends our deepest condolences to their families, and friends who lived life with them,” read a statement from the organization. “We not only remember these great athletes for what they did on the field but remember the great people they were.”
When reached by The Globe and Mail, representatives from the sports organizations declined to comment further than their statement out of respect for the families. The Globe also briefly spoke with Mr. Wells’s father, Bentley, who said he wasn’t yet emotionally ready to talk about the crash.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman called the crash a “shocking and horrible tragedy” on Twitter on Sunday, “taking the lives of six young people with their whole future ahead of them.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted that, “We’re all hurting today as we learn the tragic news of the car accident and the loss of six young lives. I’m thinking about the friends and families of these young people and know that there will be many in our community in need of support in the days and weeks to come.”
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.