Fatal Highway 7 crash at Vanscoy, Sask. raises questions about safety

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WATCH ABOVE: Residents are urging drivers to pay attention after two collisions on Highway 7 near Vanscoy in less than 24 hours, one which left a 17-year-old boy dead. Meaghan Craig with the details.

Within 24 hours, first responders rushed to the scene of two different collisions within kilometres of each other on the edge of Vanscoy, Sask.

Warman RCMP and the Delisle Fire Department responded to a two-vehicle crash Jan. 2 on the west exit of the town near the intersection of Highway 672 and Highway 7.

It’s where emergency crews found Matthew Stronach, 17, dead on scene after the pickup truck he was in as a passenger collided with a transport truck.

READ MORE: 3 dead following head-on crash near Melville, Sask.

Stronach died just before his 18th birthday, according to a GoFundMe page.

“We love you Matthew, you will be missed by everyone’s life you have touched,” read the GoFundMe post.

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The 17-year-old girl who was driving was taken to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon with undetermined injuries.

One person is dead after a pickup collided with a transport truck in Vanscoy, Sask., on Jan. 2, 2019.
One person is dead after a pickup collided with a transport truck in Vanscoy, Sask., on Jan. 2, 2019. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

“It’s really sad, just really sad,” said Shawna Wirz, a teacher in town.

An investigation into the crash continues and whether any charges will be laid is still unclear.

For Wirz, the scene is familiar, not only because she lives in town, but because she knows just how unpredictable the intersection can be after experiencing a fender-bender at the same location.

“It worked out OK but it was still an accident,” she said.

“I had made the call to slow down as quickly as I could so we were just lucky nothing was much worse.”

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With a steady stream of vehicles buzzing by, close calls are pretty common, according to Vanscoy’s deputy mayor Brent Lensen.

“I think speed is probably a factor, people not paying attention,” Lensen said.

“SGI and the government, everybody is trying to figure something out but it just comes down to people paying attention I think probably 90 per cent of the time.”

On the morning of Jan. 3, emergency crews were back detouring traffic after another motor vehicle crash on the same stretch of highway approximately 1.5 kilometres west of the fatal collision.

There were non-life-threatening injuries associated with the second collision, which involved a truck and car. The cause is still under investigation.

It has also left many to wonder, how dangerous is this particular stretch of highway?

According to SGI, the following are the numbers associated with a 30-kilometre section of highway between the junction of Highway 60 and Delisle.

SGI statistics obtained by Global News.
SGI statistics obtained by Global News. Graphic

Traffic volumes over a 10-year timeframe have significantly increased but what’s surprising is the number of collisions dropped by more than half.

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Despite the decline in the total number of collisions, Lensen had a warning for all drivers.

“Pay attention to speed limits, the road conditions and to what the guy ahead of you is doing.”

It’s hoped an ongoing $20-million highway twinning project in the Vanscoy and Delisle area will improve safety as well.