Dec 17, 2010


LAMBTON COUNTY, ON, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and its many partners who worked to rescue motorists stranded on Highway 402 in the storm earlier this week are elated that the operation concluded with few injuries and no loss of life.

"I have already told the OPP personnel involved that they are quite simply the best at what they do. I am very proud at how efficiently and safely this operation was conducted by all those involved," said OPP Commissioner Chris D. Lewis. "I also want to thank all our partners and the community for their skilled professionalism and seamless contribution. The Highway 402 rescue and cleanup was a great example of inter-governmental and inter-agency cooperation."

An estimated 350 vehicles were stranded on Highway 402 during the storm. The OPP led the rescue operation and -- with the assistance of the Canadian Forces, county and municipal emergency responders -- removed 237 motorists from the highway on December 14. Emergency Management Ontario coordinated the provincial response. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) worked to clear roads and support the rescue.

"Our search and rescue technicians, air crew and ground-based searchers are proud to have assisted the OPP and the province of Ontario in providing aid to stranded motorists this week. The Canadian Forces stands ready to provide assistance, when requested by our security partners and the provincial authorities. I must commend the great work done by the OPP and the Ontario emergency services during this crisis and thank them for welcoming us onto their team during this time-sensitive operation," said Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command, the organization responsible for Canadian Forces operations in North America.

Lambton County and municipal emergency responders and personnel, private businesses, motorized snow vehicle operators, and private citizens also played a critical part including assisting with the rescue, clearing secondary roads, opening their homes to stranded motorists, providing food and clothing and establishing 'warming centres'.

"We are grateful for the expertise of Lambton OPP officers and the outstanding rescue efforts contributed by the military while in the air and on the ground," said Lambton County Warden Steve Arnold. "These people, along with volunteers who helped in the rescue efforts, are to be credited for contributing to the successful outcome of this experience."

Highway 402 is now open in both directions, but OPP and MTO are urging motorists to be prepared and drive according to conditions.

"Thanks to the dedication and professionalism of OPP officers, first responders and members of the Canadian Forces, hundreds of stranded motorists were rescued from the storm," said Jim Bradley, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. "I also want to recognize the generosity of the many volunteers who welcomed strangers in their homes, offered them food and comfort in reception centres and went out in the snowy cold to look for people trapped in their vehicles.  All these people exemplify the best of Ontario."

The OPP is reminding the motorists and the public not to call the OPP for road conditions, but to call the MTO at 1-800-268-4686.

With plenty of winter driving ahead, motorists are encouraged to visit the MTO website at http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/winterdrive/winterdrive.shtml for tips on proper preparation for safe winter driving.

For further information:

Sergeant David Rektor