The joy of Christmas is muted in Tracadie-Sheila, New Brunswick, as the community mourns the loss of four young people killed in a crash early Saturday morning.

RCMP confirm that at least one person was an eyewitness to the tragedy.

“Now I can’t confirm if they were friends, or if they were travelling together,” says Cpl. Scott Myles of the RCMP.

The eyewitness called for help, leading emergency responders to the site of the crash that is deep within a remote area of the old Tracadie Military Range.

Police say without an eyewitness, recovery of the victims and vehicle would have been an even greater challenge.

“It would have been very difficult, it certainly would’ve. I can’t even imagine what it would’ve been like if we hadn’t had the call because it is a secluded area,” explains Cpl. Myles. “There’s absolutely no cell phone coverage and our police radios didn’t work very well out there.”

Police say the vehicle was trying to make its way up a hill, spun out of control, then landed in the Tracadie River. The road is not serviced during the winter months.

“The area is usually closed in November because of the snow,” says Aldéoda Losier, mayor of Tracadie-Sheila. “You just see snowmobiles or ATVs on that trail, but temperatures we’ve seen for the last two weeks have been such that people were still going there with their cars and trucks.”

Police say the vehicle the four victims were found in had just been given as a gift.

A mechanical inspection of the vehicle is also being carried out as part of the investigation.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.