FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Though it’s been nearly 21 years since a crash at a rural Saskatchewan intersection involving a pickup truck and tractor-trailer claimed the lives of six members of her family, Marcy Hetherington says she still remembers the sadness to this day.
Her sadness, however, turned to anger two weeks ago when a crash involving a semi-truck and a bus claimed the lives of 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos Junior hockey – anger that’s now fuelling a crusade against the government she says could have done more to prevent the second tragedy.
In June 1997, Hetherington’s sister, Terri Lynne Fiddler, her husband Rod Fiddler, their three children; 4-year-old Jocelyn, 3-year-old Jasmine, and four-week-old Kassandre, were traveling eastbound on Highway 335 with Rod’s 26-year-old sister Wendy Lou on their way to Carrot River, southeast of Nipawin, Saskatchewan. While approaching the intersection with Highway 35, the pickup truck they were travelling in ran through a stop sign and collided with a southbound semi, before ending up in the ditch and bursting into flames.
Hetherington said that after the crash, in which the driver of the semi was found not at fault, her mother was told by a member of the Saskatchewan government of the day that safety improvements including rumble strips would be installed along Highway 335 to warn motorists of the upcoming stop sign. She added that while a flashing red light was installed above the stop sign, those rumble strips were never put in. After finding out several years ago and asking why the rumble strips weren’t installed, Hetherington said she got an explanation that she says isn’t good enough.
“They said that because what they pave the road with, when the snowplows plow in the winter it will ruin the rumble strips, which I do not believe” said Hetherington. “Aren’t rumble strips dug in?”
Hetherington explained that since she found out about the April 6th crash which killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos, she’s decided to take action to help ensure the intersection is made safer and claims no more lives.
“I’m speaking out now because those people should’ve never gone through this. When I heard about this accident, I’m like ‘that’s it.’ That’s negligence by the Saskatchewan government. That is total neglect. I ask, ‘Why is this not done?’ They don’t give an answer. But I am going to hound them until this gets done.”
Hetherington pointed out footage shot by Global News at the scene of the April 6th crash which shows a number of road signs cluttering the same field of view as the stop sign, which she says is unsafe. She also wants to see the speed limit lowered on Highway 335 since it is a secondary road, and added that the best solution would be to turn the intersection into a roundabout.
Hetherington’s idea of installing a roundabout is not a new one. Global News is reporting that calls to install the traffic control device are increasing in Saskatchewan, citing a 2013 crash along the Trans-Canada Highway east of Regina that killed 17-year-old boy.
This Saturday, Hetherington will also be raising money for the town Humboldt at her store, Marcy’s Bright Ideas. She says that everything in the store will be 25 percent off, with 10 percent of sales being sent directly to the Mayor of Humboldt, along with a letter of support.
With files from CBC News and Global Regina: