The Van de Vorst family welcomed 2016 by admiring the northern lights on New Year’s Eve and rollicking down a toboggan hill on a sunny New Year’s Day. Barely 48 hours later, they were victims in a midnight collision at a notorious intersection, after which a Saskatoon woman was charged with impaired driving causing death.

Jordan Van de Vorst, 34; wife Chanda Van de Vorst, 33; their five-year-old daughter Kamryn Van de Vorst; and two-year-old son Miguire Van de Vorst were confirmed dead after the collision, which took place on Sunday shortly after 12 a.m., at Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road. According to police, Jordan was driving his family’s car at the time of the collision. He and his wife were extricated from the vehicle, but pronounced dead at the scene. Their two-year-old son and five-year-old daughter were taken to hospital in Saskatoon, said RCMP. Miguire died Sunday, said police, while Kamryn died Monday.

In a statement released through the Saskatoon Health Region, friends and family said the five-year-old girl “passed away peacefully at Royal University Hospital” and asked for “privacy during this extremely difficult time.”

Jordan “was such a loving husband and father,” wrote friend Jacqui Ferguson, who was part of an aurora watchers group with Jordan, in a Facebook post, calling the collision “a terrible tragedy.

“On New Year’s Eve his highlight was getting the whole family out to see the auroras. With 2 small kids (2 & 5) it rarely if ever happened. Chanda rarely saw them either, as she would be home with the kids while he was out shooting. She was so supportive of him, and he of her… ”

Catherine Loye McKay appeared Monday in Saskatoon provincial court, where she was charged with three counts of impaired driving causing death. Further charges are pending, said RCMP.


McKay, who serves as the executive director of Saskatoon Sports Council, barely moved during her brief court appearance, looking almost catatonic. She is scheduled to appear again Thursday.

The intersection has been the scene of multiple fatal crashes and a wave of other serious accidents in recent years, with various groups calling for changes to the crossing. The mayors of Warman and Osler, two of the nearest communities to the scene at Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road, are calling for changes after these latest fatalities.

“When I heard of yet more deaths, it made me sick,” Warman Mayor Sheryl Spence said. “What’s it going to take for us to give it more attention? I don’t know what the holdup is.”

 “We would look at things like sight lines, visibility, signage, pavement markings, speed limits, things of that nature,” ministry spokesman Doug Wakabayashi said.

Wakabayashi said a review of this kind is automatic after a fatal crash. He also noted the drunk driving charge police laid in the crash.

The intersection has already had safety upgrades over the years, including dedicated left-turn lanes in both directions on Highway 11, a dedicated right-turn lane from Highway 11 onto Wanuskewin Road, and an on-ramp from Wanuskewin Road onto the highway, he said. In addition, there is extensive lighting in the area, including the median, and enhanced signage, he said.

The biggest factor in road safety is driver behaviour, he said. Changes to the Traffic Safety Act in 2014 included new penalties for drunk driving, he said.

A future freeway around Saskatoon would have a dramatic effect on the intersection, as it will intersect with Highway 11 “extremely close” to it, Wakabayashi said. It will be so close, in fact, that when the overpass is built the current intersection will be closed.

Warman RCMP arrived at the scene of the two-vehicle collision, just a few kilometres north of Saskatoon, at approximately 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. According to RCMP, a four-door Hyundai Elantra car was travelling westbound on Highway 11 when it was struck by a Jeep Wrangler SUV attempting to cross the highway on Wanuskewin Road.

Warman RCMP, Corman Park Police Service, Warman Fire Department, Saskatoon Fire and Rescue as well as MD Ambulance service all assisted at the scene.


A memorial to a previous crash marks the intersection at Wanuskewin Rd and Highway 11, outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Osler Mayor Ben Buhler said the rapidly-growing region has countless infrastructure needs. A new overpass or major re-engineering of the intersection may not be realistic in the short term. However, that doesn’t mean smaller, simpler measures wouldn’t work in the meantime.

“There are way more accidents there than there should be. All of these fatalities cannot be ignored. Every life is precious,” Buhler said.

Buhler said he’d like to see traffic lights at the intersection, and so would most of the region’s residents.

“I’m sure there’d be some grumbling, but most would support it,” Buhler said.
Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison extended his condolences to the family of the victims.

“There are a lot of questions that be asked as to whether the intersection needs to be redesigned (or) closed,” Atchison said.

Source: National Post

Last updated on: 2016-01-20 | Link to this post