Two communities are ridden by shock and grief after a crash on Highway 7 took the lives of three people Wednesday.

Friends and coworkers of 39-year-old Karen Thompson describe her as a wife and loving mother of four who will be greatly missed.

"Yesterday the employees of Albany International in Perth lost a friend and coworker in this crash," wrote Judy Meraw in an email to CTV. "She was on her way into work when her life ended."

"Karen was beautiful, and more beautiful was her personality and her heart," wrote another coworker.

Thompson's colleagues say they are receiving grief counseling to help deal with her death. Many considered her a close friend and say their heart goes out to her family and the other victims.

Police say two vans crashed in the Maberly area about 20 kilometeres west of Perth around 7:30 in the morning.

Thompson was pronounced dead at the scene along with two people in the other vehicle. Police have identified them as 47-year-old John David Duffy and his 16-year-old son Thomas. Duffy's 10-year-old son Eric was also injured.

CTV has learned the Orleans family was on their way to a ski competition in Barrie, Ont.

"It's a tough day in the ski community," said Peter Suderman. "When something like this happens, everyone feels and shares the pain and sorrow that follows."

Close friends of the family say Duffy shared a love for the sport with his boys. Sixteen-year-old Thomas was a gold medalist in moguls at the Ontario Provincial Junior Championships. He dreamed of becoming a member of the Canadian Olympic team.

Police say the Duffy van was heading westbound when it crossed the centre line striking the eastbound van. Ski coach Steve Hambling was also in the van and was sent to hospital with injuries.

"The specialist investigators are reconstructing, taking data, taking photographs and we'll recreate to see what happened to cause the collision," said Sgt. David Bird of Lanark County OPP.

With reports from CTV Ottawa's Stefanie Masotti and Catherine Lathem