Janet VanderBeek, mother of skier Kelly VanderBeek, killed in crash
Published Monday, March 17, 2014 10:54AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, March 17, 2014 7:22PM EDT
Janet VanderBeek, a Kitchener resident and the mother of Olympic skier Kelly VanderBeek, was killed Saturday when she was hit by a passing vehicle while attempting to help a family whose car had slid into a ditch.
OPP say VanderBeek and her husband Ron were driving along Grey Road 2 in the Town of Blue Mountains, near Collingwood, when they came upon the vehicle in the ditch and pulled over.
As VanderBeek was making room in her own vehicle to keep two children from the other vehicle warm, an SUV came onto the scene.
The SUV saw what was happening and attempted to slow down, but began sliding on the road and hit VanderBeek – who was taken to a local hospital but died there as a result of injuries from the crash.
“She was helping two kids. That’s just the woman she was. She never took credit for anything, and she always went totally out of her way to help people,” Ron VanderBeek tells CTV News.
Family members say selflessness was the driving force in VanderBeek’s life, whether she was helping her husband set up his medical practice or juggling schedules to get four kids to various after-school events and activities.
“She was always helping,” says son Jeffrey VanderBeek.
“She thought of everybody else first. She was happiest when she was working on a problem for somebody that she cared about.”
For the past two years, the 58-year-old VanderBeek worked as an administrative assistant to oldest daughter Laura, who recently opened a surgical practice.
“It didn’t matter what I asked of her, she would do it – she never said no to anything, to anybody,” Laura says.
That attitude extended well past work and family.
With former Olympian Kelly VanderBeek in the family, it’s no surprise VanderBeek was a regular volunteer on local ski hills – and possessing what family members call an “incredible selflessness”, it’s no surprise she continued volunteering long after Kelly moved to the World Cup circuit.
“Everybody who’s raced in southern Ontario has had some interaction with the VanderBeek family at some level,” says John MacDonald, a ski coach at Chicopee Ski Hill.
“Ski racing can be quite hectic. It’s time-driven, there’s weather involved. There’s a lot of stress involved with a ski race, but she was always there to make everyone feel at ease.”
The VanderBeek family lives just blocks from Chicopee, and in recent years, Ron and Janet have made a weekly trek to Blue Mountain to help with races at the Georgian Peaks Ski Club.
OPP continue to investigate the crash.
Visitation will take place Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Henry Walser Funeral Home in Kitchener, and a funeral service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. George Anglican Church on Fischer-Hallman Road.