'It’s devastating': Community in mourning after fatal crash in Oxford County
The Township of East-Zorra Tavistock and the surrounding community are in mourning after a fatal crash took the lives of a police officer and a bus driver.
“Doing their jobs and tragically losing their lives. It’s just heartbreaking,” East Zorra-Tavistock Mayor Phil Schaefer said. “It’s devastating. Especially for anybody who knew these gentlemen.”
People in the community who spoke to CTV News Tuesday say they're taking time to remember the two men who died in the crash, OPP Det. Const. Steven Tourangeau and bus driver Dave Stewart.
“It was just really horrific and we’re certainly waiting on more details, because we hadn’t heard a lot of what caused it. But just a really sad and tragic loss of life,” Jasmine Moulton, a Woodstock resident, said.
“It’s very sad, and our hearts go out for the bus driver and for the police officer,” said Patty Swarts, who also lives in Woodstock.
“Awful, I’m glad there was no children on the bus,” Doris Blackmore said.
“Obviously very upsetting for the family. This is an ongoing event for this intersection,” Innerkip resident Joesy Fitzgeorge said.
The intersection where the crash happened, Highway 59 and Oxford Road 33, is known to people who live nearby as an extremely dangerous location.
“It seems like traffic is getting a lot busier, and certainly as a mom of two it’s really scary to think of, especially with a school bus, the thought of sending kids to school on busy roads,” Moulton said.
According to Oxford County, the intersection will become a four-way stop before the end of June. Those who use the road almost every day, said that will be a welcomed change.
“I personally know a few people that have been in accidents at that intersection. I take that intersection very frequently. It is very unsafe. You sometimes can’t see traffic. People are always flying up and down that road,” Fitzgeorge said.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of these two individuals. Hopefully now things can be changed and this can make a difference,” Fitzgeorge added.
While residents are encouraged by the planned change, many say even more safety features are needed, including potentially more warning signs or a roundabout.
“I think they don’t have enough stops coming east and west,” Swarts said.
Oxford County said it will continue monitoring traffic in the area to see if additional safety improvements are needed.
“Oxford County is listening to the community’s concerns and responding. We made some immediate adjustments in January and the remainder of the safety improvements to this intersection will be in place before the end of June. Through our ongoing technical study dating back to 2021, and in adherence to Ontario Ministry of Transportation guidelines, the current annual traffic volume and related factors do not meet the threshold level which triggers the requirement for a roundabout. Having said that, that is a potential future option pending changes in future vehicular traffic conditions. As we do across the County road network, we’ll continue to closely monitor traffic patterns and volume for this intersection on an annual basis and may need to undertake that option,” David Simpson, director of public works for Oxford County, said in an email.