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‘It’s a death trap’: Dad of Lake Country teen who died in Highway 97 crash calls for change

Tavin Hansom, 18, died on June 23 just before 4 p.m., driving his motorbike north on Highway 97.
Tavin Hansom, 18, died on June 23 just before 4 p.m., driving his motorbike north on Highway 97. Courtesy: Hansom family

It’s only been a week since James Hansom’s son died in a crash on Highway 97 and the grief wrought is propelling him into areas he couldn’t have expected.

Read more: Fatal crash on Highway 97 near Kelowna, B.C. airport: RCMP

Between making plans to lay his son, Tavin, to rest and spending time with his loved ones, he’s been on the phone, speaking with media and others about the changes he believes need to happen on the stretch of highway where his son died.

His head, he said, is a bit of a jumble from the weight of it all, he needs to spread the word and get the intersection he described as a “death trap” fitted with lights.

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Tavin, 18, died June 23 just before 4 p.m. while driving his motorbike home from work, headed north on Highway 97. A car leaving Old Vernon Road turned left onto the highway in front of him and the collision was fatal.

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“(Tavin) hit it dead centre and now my son is just a loving memory,” James said.

“I am not going to let his memory be just flowers, stuffies and a cross at the side of the road. I want tangible change,” he said.

READ MORE: West Kelowna says crash cost $35K in damage, public help sought in finding driver

That particular intersection on a four-lane stretch of the 90-kilometre highway is one both Hansoms have passed often on their way home from work. It has no traffic lights and no medians dissuading motorists from making turns against traffic, which can be dangerous, if not deadly.

From 2016 to 2020, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reported there were 125 crashes at that intersection.

A cyclist died in a collision there last year, James said, and there was another crash just six days after his son’s. No fatalities were reported in that crash but the sight of it hit Hansom hard.

“I relived (Tavin’s crash) instantly,” Hansom said of the Tuesday night collision.

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RCMP urge caution following another serious crash on Highway 97 – Dec 1, 2021

“Somebody had stopped to help these young people who had a collision in the same spot, there was a motorcycle there, my heart sunk, I got lightheaded. I haven’t even accepted what’s happened here, in my life, yet, then on our way back there were two more demolished vehicles in the exact same place where Tavin was taken.”

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Lights need to be installed to stop this kind of thing from happening, he said.

“Who would allow a left turn onto a double-lane highway that has a 90 km/hour highway. It’s a death trap.”

He’s not the only one asking for some change.

A Tuesday night crash at Highway 97 and Old Vernon Road reinforced the community’s desire for change. Courtesy: Kangaroo Creek Farm

The owners of the popular Kangaroo Creek farm also issued a plea for traffic lights to be installed this week and asked for people to change their driving behaviour in the wake of the crashes.

“There should be a light at that intersection. Until then, please avoid turning left onto the highway at that intersection. It’s simply not safe,” owners of Kangaroo Creek Farm wrote on their social media.

“If you visit the farm and are returning to Kelowna then please take the scenic route down Old Vernon Road to Reid’s corner or use the airport frontage road to go down to the light. Be safe.”

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A call has been made to the Ministry of Transportation for comment but Global News did not receive a response in time of publication.

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