The two paramedics killed in a crash on Vancouver Island Tuesday were both veterans of the service -- one a grandmother and the other a recent widow.

The BC Ambulance Service has identified the victims in the crash on Highway 4 as Jo-Ann Fuller, 59, and Ivan Polivka, 65. The two died when their ambulance plunged more than 200 feet down an embankment into Kennedy Lake, between Ucluelet and Port Alberni.

Fuller was the unit chief for the ambulance service in Tofino and had 23 years of experience. Ivan Polivka had been with the service for 14 years and was planning to retire.

Fuller had just become a grandmother and Polivka lived alone, having recently lost his wife to cancer.

Former nurse Priscilla Lockwood rode with the pair hundreds of times, and described them as conscientious and safe.

"They were wonderful, warm people. You trusted them coming into your home at a time of great tragedy or great urgency. You knew they would give you their best and they did," Lockwood told CTV News.

The tragedy is having a devastating effect on fellow paramedics in Tofino.

"Everybody who comes to the ambulance service comes to do that work to help others, and to have people lose their lives in the line of duty is very tragic," paramedic Les Fisher said.

The two paramedics had just transferred a patient to Port Alberni and were returning to Tofino when they were killed.

At least four investigations into the crash are underway, but it didn't take long for people to start placing blame. For decades, locals have demanded safety improvements on Highway 4, and now they're hoping this tragedy will finally trigger some action.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty