Some of the estimated $3 million worth of coins spilled across a highway near Kirkland Lake. Stories of passers-by scooping up the coins remain unproven. “You pray that people didn’t do that,” says Inspector Mark Andrews, “but if someone did help themselves, I hope they are feeling really guilty.”
A stretch of Highway 11 north of Kirkland Lake was to be closed intermittently Thursday morning as the remaining toonies and loonies from a $3 million Brinks shipment involved in a serious crash were cleaned up from the sides of the two-lane road, OPP Inspector Mark Andrews said.
An electromagnet brought in by Brinks was scooping up the remaining coins and dumping them into a bin to be taken to an “undisclosed area” to be sorted, Andrews told the Toronto Star Thursday.
“It is unconfirmed that it’s about $3 million worth of coin that spread from fence line to fence line,” he said.
Meanwhile, the two Brinks employees hurt in the crash are both still in hospital; one is fighting for his life.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed for the family that he will be able to pull through, and the other one is still in serious condition,” Andrews said.
The horrendous crash happened Wednesday morning shortly before 4 a.m. between Kirkland Lake and South Porcupine in northeastern Ontario. Northbound traffic was rerouted along Highway 17.
Andrews said there were icy conditions in the area when the Brinks tractor trailer, used for hauling heavy loads of coin intra-provincially, left the road and hit a hit rock face. It then was struck by two other tractor trailers and a van. One of the tractor trailers was carrying candy, which too was spilled onto the highway.
The highway was opened up Wednesday night at about 10 p.m. “People weren’t allowed to stop for obvious reasons . . . and we are starting again this morning with the magnet and further cleaning up the coins, so the highway will be closed intermittently, but we are hoping to have it all done today (by noon),” the inspector said.
Andrews said the electromagnet “skimming along the ground and sucking up money” looked like a typical large round magnet used in scrap yards.
At one point at the crash scene, there were more than 20 officers, including technical traffic collision investigators, a reconstructionist, traffic investigators, several officers guarding the spilled coins, an emergency response team, and a canine unit that was brought to search for and find a missing Brinks firearm dislodged during the crash. There were also several Brinks employees at the site.
Andrews said rumours of passersby scooping up the spilled coins are just that so far.
“You pray that people didn’t do that . . . but if someone did help themselves, I hope they are feeling really guilty,” he said.
The north, he added, is close-knit enough that “if someone suddenly brings in a big bag of toonies and loonies … and they smell like diesel fuel, I suspect that we’ll get a call.”