Concerns raised about safety at Highway 11 intersection north of Saskatoon
SASKATOON – A woman is facing impaired driving charges after a tragic highway crash that killed a young Saskatoon family. Four people lost their lives and the incident has raised the ire of many over a dangerous intersection.
Jordan Van de Vorst, 34, Chanda Van de Vorst, 33, Kamryn Van de Vorst , 5, and Miguire Van de Vorst, 2, all died following the two-vehicle collision on Jan. 3 at Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road. The parents, Jordan and Chanda, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Both children were taken to hospital where they succumbed to their injuries.
Warman RCMP say Catherine McKay, 49, was driving the Jeep that struck the small car around midnight on Jan. 3. She has been charged with multiple counts of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
Mounties said on Sunday that the driver of the Jeep failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection north of Saskatoon. Alcohol was also identified as a factor in the crash.
According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), there have been 38 collisions at the intersection between 2006 and 2014, resulting in 30 injuries and three deaths.
The crash is another example of why the province needs to erect traffic signals at the intersection, according to Corman Park Reeve Judy Harwood.
“You put warning lights ahead of time, you let people know that if its amber flashing, start to slow down, there’s going to be a red light,” said Harwood.
“The city of Warman and certainly the town Osler, they’re going to keep growing, there’s a lot of traffic [that] comes in there, it’s going to get busier, and it’s not going to get less.”
Al Reichert with the Saskatoon and District Safety Council says he doesn’t think people understand the complexities at the intersection. He suggests, right now, that Highway 11 north of Saskatoon is probably the busiest corridor with rush-hour traffic in Saskatchewan.
“When people lose their lives, whether it’s because of driver error or whatever the reason … it just really, really hurts, especially when it’s young people, the whole family, it really upsets me when I hear those things,” said Reichert.
“I think we have to do everything in our power to alleviate that kind of a thing from happening. When you have cross traffic going across four lanes on a busy highway, there are going to be numerous incidents so we have to try and figure out a way of not having that traffic crossing that highway.”
Reichert suggests adding a high-speed “traffic circle” where vehicles merge instead of intersecting with each other at the location.
WATCH: Saskatoon and District Safety Council on tragic Highway 11 crash
The province says they’ve studied the effects of highway traffic signals and found that right-angle collisions decrease, but rear-end collisions increase.
“The problem with traffic lights is traffic on the highway, it’s an environment where traffic’s not expecting to have to stop at traffic signals,” said Doug Wakabayashi, with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.
“There’s a lot that can be done to improve safety on the traffic engineering side, there’s things that can be done on the enforcement side, but ultimately the biggest determinant of traffic safety is driver behavior.”
Wakabayashi added that the province will review Sunday’s collision, but has already put safety measures in place at the intersection, including separate left-turn lanes, a dedicated right-turn lane and an additional on-ramp.
A Saskatoon resident who knew one of the victims is also speaking out about the busy intersection.
Jeremy Sax spoke with Global News Monday and is adding his name to the list of those calling for traffic signals. He suffered permanent damage in his right ear after a crash at the same intersection in 2012. In a tragic coincidence, it was Chandra Van de Vorst, a kinesiologist, who led his rehabilitation after his collision.
Joel Senick contributed to this story
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