The night was still and dark in the aftermath of the fatal head-on collision.
Then a baby cried out.
It happened last Monday evening on Highway 1 near Tompkins, Sask. A 66-year-old man, identified later as Rick Rosell from Gull Lake, was driving the wrong way down the highway just before the crash. Police say alcohol is believed to have been a factor. Rosell died at the scene.
Lorretta Hughes and her daughter-in-law Melanie were in the other vehicle. They had been returning home to Shaunavon. Melanie's infant son Winston was in the back seat.
Peter Cain and his wife Marlene were not far behind the Hughes' vehicle and ended up being the first to the scene. Marlene immediately phoned 911 as Peter ran out to assess what had happened.
Peter couldn't open any of the doors and wondered how to proceed. Then the uncomfortable silence was interrupted by a child's wail.
Marlene said she was gobsmacked to see her husband dangling out of the wrecked vehicle's window.
"Once I heard the baby cry, I knew somebody had to do something and I was the only one there so in through the back window I went," said 68-year-old Peter, who is living with Stage 4 cancer.
"I'm not actually a hero. I'm not."
By that time, truck drivers had stopped at the site and came out to help.
"I just yelled out, 'There's a baby in here,' " Peter said.
Once he got into the vehicle, he saw a woman's body lying across the seat.
"The woman's arm, her left arm, was across the baby's chest," he said.
Cain said he had to lift her arm to access the carseat straps and when he did, the woman took her last breath.
The baby's seatbelt was stuck on tight. Cain yelled for a flashlight.
A truck driver climbed on top of the vehicle and assisted him through the sunroof with a knife and a flashlight. Cain said he passed the baby up to the driver.
"There was a lot of people involved and everyone did their part," said Cain of the rescue efforts.
"He handed the baby to my wife and my wife never let go of him for almost a solid four hours — just kept him in her arms until the father showed up at the hospital "
The baby was howling when Marlene first held him. Looking back days later, her voice wavered as she described his bright, loopy red curls and big blue eyes with long eyelashes.
She drew on her experience as a grandmother, playing children's music from her IPad, calming him.
Paramedics soon arrived on site and Marlene accompanied the baby to the hospital, staying until his dad arrived around midnight.
Marlene said she feels grateful that he is surrounded by supportive family and community members in the aftermath of such loss.
Peter had been a longhaul trucker before he retired and this wasn't the first accident he had come upon, but he said this one was likely the worst.
He said he saw the other car before it burst into flames and noted it "looked like it had already gone through the crusher at a scrap yard."
"My wife is the hero for taking care of that baby for so long, and the young truck driver he's a hero. Matter of fact everybody who was on scene is a hero," he said.