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Updated: Tue, 03 Dec 2013 17:57:51 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Senator Romeo Dallaire in car crash on Parliament hill



Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire was involved in a single vehicle accident on Parliament Hill Tuesday morning, the apparent result of sleep deprivation an official in the Liberal Senate office told CBC News. Lorian Belanger/Radio-Canada

Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire was involved in a single vehicle accident on Parliament Hill Tuesday morning, the apparent result of sleep deprivation an official in the Liberal Senate office told CBC News. Lorian Belanger/Radio-Canada

Liberal Senator Roméo Dallaire told Senate colleagues Tuesday afternoon that the car crash he had on Parliament Hill earlier in the day was caused by a lack of sleep due to reliving the events he saw as a general during the Rwandan genocide and the apparent suicide of three Afghan war veterans last week.

"On my way to work this morning, I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the barrier near the east block with my car. I am very thankful that nobody was injured or worse by my not being more attentive to the level of fatigue that I have been experiencing," Dallaire told the Senate.

While the senator was not hurt, two airbags deployed during the collision, according to Marc Roy, the director of communications for the Liberal leader in the Senate​ who spoke to CBC News.

Dallaire nodded off from sheer exhaustion because he did not sleep last night, Roy said.

The senator's black BMW skidded off the road, past the sidewalk and onto the snow-covered grass before hitting a lamp post on Parliament Hill.

Dallaire is a retired general who has battled post-traumatic stress disorder after heading up the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda.

He was the force commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda​ leading up to and during the 1994 genocide.

 As the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide approaches in April 2014, he has been reliving those events. Not only that but the apparent suicides of three Afghan war veterans last week have also had an impact on him, he said. 

Dallaire told his Senate colleagues those events have affected his ability to sleep, despite taking prescribed medication to help him cope.

"I simply ran out of steam," the senator said.

Dallaire said he regrets taking such a risk and not paying more attention to his physical condition.

"I hope it brings no dishonour to you or to this institution," Dallaire said. 

The single-vehicle accident occurred after he passed the RCMP checkpoint, an entrance all parliamentarians must use to enter and exit the grounds on Parliament Hill.

The RCMP closed the road to traffic while Dallaire's car was towed.

RCMP say that "like alcohol, fatigue impairment slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases the risk of crashing."

Dallaire is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and a Commander of the Order of Military Merit.​

He is also the author of two best-selling books stemming from his experience in Rwanda.

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