Manitoba singer Errol Ranville survives crash that kills wife

Five killed in horrific collision
Noted aboriginal musician only survivor of fiery crash
By: Kevin Rollason and Aldo Santin

Aboriginal music legend Errol Ranville is the lone survivor of a head-on collision near The Pas that killed five people, including his wife, Marcie.

Ranville's brother, Stirling, said on Friday the 57-year-old Errol was flown to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre after the collision.

"All the paramedics could say is his injuries are intense," Stirling said.

Another brother, Wally, spoke to the media late Friday afternoon outside the hospital's emergency entrance.

"Errol survived, he's doing OK. Unfortunately, his wife did not survive," he said.

Surrounded by other family members, Wally Ranville said Errol suffered multiple injuries, including a broken leg.

"He's stabilized and he will be fine."

The four people in the other vehicle involved in the crash, a 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier, are residents of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.

Philip Dorion said two of the victims were his granddaughter, Jessie Dorion, and her boyfriend, Dion Constant, the nephew of OCN Chief Michael Constant.

"It's hard," Dorion said. "We don't know what happened. It was a two-vehicle accident between a Jeep and my granddaughter's car. It was her car. She might have been driving, but we don't know."

RCMP said both the Cavalier and a 2007 Jeep Wrangler caught fire after colliding on Highway 10, about three kilometres south of The Pas at about 4:30 a.m.

The Jeep was believed to be heading north towards The Pas at the time of the collision.

All four occupants of the Cavalier, believed to be travelling south, will have to be identified through forensic tests. RCMP said at this time they can't determine genders or ages.

RCMP said highway conditions were good at the time.

Highway 10 was closed for hours after the collision, with vehicles being detoured away from the site while RCMP conducted their investigation.

That section of the highway is currently being resurfaced by the province.

A spokesman for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation said "heartfelt condolences are extended to the families and friends of the victims.

"The area is clearly marked for drivers as a construction zone, all appropriate signage is in place."

Eric Robinson, the province's aboriginal and northern affairs minister -- and a friend of Ranville's since they were 17 -- expressed shock about the tragic collision.

"It's a huge loss -- it's such a tragedy that so many lives were lost at one time," Robinson said as he headed to the hospital to be with his friend.

Robinson said Ranville is a giant in the country's aboriginal music industry.

"He's such a huge influence on many young artists," he said.

"And his beloved wife was also committed to supporting his endeavours."

Musician Ray St. Germain said Marcie Ranville was also the musician's business manager.

"She was his rock. They were quite a team," St. Germain said.

In recent years, Ranville has become known as a promoter and booster of aboriginal music, working to develop the Aboriginal Music Program and serving as executive producer for both Manito Ahbee and the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards.

Ranville was inducted into the Aboriginal Hall of Fame in 2005.

Ranville, who headed the band C-Weed, was headed to The Pas to play shows at the Aseneskak Casino on Friday and tonight.

John Ervin, the bass player for the band, said the other musicians -- including Errol's brother, Don, who plays drums, and keyboardist Marc Arnould -- were packing up to head to The Pas when they received the call about the collision.

"I'm worried about how he is doing and he lost his wife," Ervin said.

"It's a shock for all of us."

Ervin said Errol's wife travelled everywhere with the band and sold their CDs and other merchandise.

"She was very bubbly. She was very happy. And she had a very beautiful smile."

Ervin said the band knew the couple always liked travelling at night to get to far-off shows.

"It wouldn't surprise me if something like a moose was involved in this."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 9, 2010 B1

Manitoba Country Music Association